Photo Credit: IANS
The Indian Ministry of External Affairs is monitoring the situation arising amid Hurricane Irma, and is in touch with the Indians in the United States, Venezuela, France and the Netherlands, ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar said on Sept. 9. The Indian missions are communicating with local government officials to provide help to the affected Indians, he added.
More than 1,500 Indian families are reportedly stranded on the Carribean Island of St Martin, after Hurricane Irma hit the area. Indian families in the area are living without access to food, water or electricity, and are living in constant anxiety of getting robbed, according to media reports.
Through a series of tweets and retweets, Raveesh Kumar said that the Indian government is monitoring the situation:
Our Missions in Venezuela, Netherlands, France & US are constantly monitoring the situation following destruction due to hurricane IRMA 1/2
— Raveesh Kumar (@MEAIndia) September 9, 2017
For those affected by Hurricane Irma, the Dutch emergency contact number is +31 247 247 247. It is open for all calls. pic.twitter.com/EsWSrf7JUr
— IndiainNetherlands (@IndinNederlands) September 8, 2017
The following additional help line with mobile and whatsapp has been established: pic.twitter.com/xftZOrj8S9
— India in Venezuela (@IndiaVenezuela) September 8, 2017
Indians Affected at St Martin
The Dutch territory of St Martin is one of the worst affected islands by Hurricane Irma. The force of the hurricane has even torn off the roofs of houses, causing widespread panic.
With limited means of communication, the efforts of Indians to get in touch with the government are going in vain. Residents in the area are trying to locate missing Indians and to regroup in safe havens on the island through social media platforms like WhatsApp groups, Mid-day reported.
The report by the publication added that Indian embassy officials are providing little assistance to the stranded people.
It reported an Indian resident of St Martin as saying that an embassy official, when contacted with enquiries about evacuation, simply asked them to ‘go to hell’. Seema Shahani, who lives on an island that is 20 kilometers away from St Martin, told the daily that her parents were stuck in the affected area.
“They were visiting him on vacation,” she was quoted as saying to Mid-Day. “Both have health issues and will soon run out of their medicine. We have no way of getting these medicines to them.”
Shahani added that she has mailed External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj regarding the situation, and revealing that an Indian embassy official named Mr. Shrivastava asked Indians to ‘go to hell’ when her friend Sunil Gehani contacted the office seeking help for evacuation.
“But he simply asked us to go to hell, and started asking my friend who would pay for the expenses of flying them out,” read Shahana’s letter to Swaraj, the publication added.
Stranded at Grant Turk Island
Yashwant Survase, 28, is stuck in the Breezy Bay region of Grant Turk Island, according to his wife Sneha Sharad Pawar, the Hindustan Times reported. Ashvini Shevale, Yashwant’s sister, said that he contacted the Indian embassy in the United Kingdom soon after the hurricane alert was issued, but the call went unanswered.
Yashwant and Sneha have been living on the island for the past four years. Sneha is currently in India to attend a family function, and she was supposed to fly back to Grant Turk this Sunday.
Sneha and Ashvini also claim that some other members of the Indian community, named Neelkanth Mehtani, Christy Medikonda, Chetan Chablani, Dharmesh Patel, Darshika Patel, Thiyagu Chandran and Jiten Sharma, are also stranded on the island. Ashvini told the newspaper that a UK Navy team came to the affected area for rescue operations, but British citizens were given preference over others.
Devastating Hurricane Irma
Irma, a Category 5 hurricane, has moved towards Florida. It made landfall in Cuba’s Camaguey Archipelago. The winds, moving at 260 kilometers per hour, have caused widespread devastation in the region. At least 19 people have been reported dead on the Caribbean islands.