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Hurricane damage 'heartbreaking' - Prince Charles

Prince Charles visiting hurricane survivors in Antigua Image copyright Getty Images

The Prince of Wales has described the destruction caused by Caribbean hurricanes as "utterly heartbreaking".

After meeting homeless families in Antigua, he said it was "painful beyond words to see the devastation".

Prince Charles is on three-day tour to see the damage caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria in September.

His visit came as the government announced a further £15m support for overseas territories affected by the hurricane, bringing the total to £92m.

Prince Charles met residents of Barbuda whose homes had been destroyed and who were being temporarily housed in Antigua.

'Painful beyond words'

Later, the heir to the throne visited Barbuda itself, flying over houses where the roofs had been torn off and replaced by blue tarpaulin. His first stop was to a primary school that was visited last year by Prince Harry. It is now partly ruined and abandoned.

The Barbuda affairs minister Arthur Nibbs told the prince that the force of the hurricane was "unprecedented" in 200 years.

Prince Charles highlighted the belief of climate experts that global warming is already intensifying tropical storms. "This will get worse with continuous warming," he said.

Only about 100 of the island's 1,700 residents remain. The prince stopped at the home of one of them, Evans Thomas, 50, who had turned his house into a makeshift bar after the nearby pub was destroyed.

The final stop on the royal tour will be the British Virgin Islands, where the prince is due to meet Red Cross staff who are supporting families left homeless.

Prince Charles said: "It was painful beyond words to see the devastation that was so cruelly wrought across the Caribbean by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in those few, terrible weeks in September."

He said that across the Caribbean "the loss of life and property and the damage to the natural environment have been utterly heartbreaking".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Prince Charles visits a clothing bank supporting displaced families from Barbuda

New International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt, who is set to join the Prince of Wales on his Caribbean visit, announced additional financial support of £12m for Dominica and £3m for Antigua and Barbuda.

Added to £15m recently allocated to the British Overseas Territories of Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands and Turks and Caicos, it brings the total UK support for reconstructing the region to £92m.

Prince Charles said his aim in making the visit was to show the Commonwealth's support for people who had suffered in the hurricanes and to thank the aid and rescue workers who were supporting them.

He said: "The recent events in the Caribbean have helped to underline the importance of the Commonwealth as a family, whose members care deeply for each other in times of need."

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