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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 September, 2004, 17:26 GMT 18:26 UK
Royal Navy saves Caribbean leader
Grenada after hurricane Ivan
Hurricane Ivan is one of the worst storms ever to hit Grenada
Royal Navy officers on patrol in the hurricane-devastated Caribbean have taken on board the prime minister of Grenada after his home was destroyed.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said officers aboard HMS Richmond and the British supply ship Wave Ruler went to the island to help stranded people.

Grenada's Prime Minister, Keith Mitchell, said the island was "90% devastated" by Hurricane Ivan.

The hurricane has swept through the Caribbean killing at least 16 people.

'Completely devastated'

At least ten deaths were reported in Grenada, where the capital St George's was hit by 125mph (200km/h) winds.

A spokesman for the MoD said around 60 sailors from HMS Richmond, which is normally based in Portsmouth, landed in Grenada to help.

The ship's commanding officer, Mike McCartain, told BBC Radio Four's Today programme: "HMS Richmond has been engaged in landing sailors ashore in reconnaissance parties to provide assistance to a lot of casualties we found ashore.

He said they had been mending generators in the hospital and replacing medical supplies.

The crew had also been clearing the island's runway to enable aircraft to land with emergency supplies, he said.

"The capital looks as if it has been completely devastated", he added.

I have declared the country a national disaster and I have contacted our international friends and indicated that
Keith Mitchell, Grenada's PM
Commander McCartain said: "We had the prime minister on board today for a number of hours while we were trying to allow him to speak to his people on the island.

"He was able to tell me that his house had been completely flattened, so we have had to take him to another residence which he can use, and that was damaged as well.

"He found himself slightly isolated, but we have managed to get his ministers to him so he can perform his functions of government."

Hurricane Ivan is one of the worst storms to ever hit Grenada.

Most of the damage was inflicted on the island on Tuesday, but downed communications meant it has taken time for the news to filter out.

Armed with knives

Mr Mitchell, who also spoke to the Today programme, said: "We have really taken a tremendous hit in every respect.

"You are talking hundreds of millions of dollars of damage. I have declared the country a national disaster and I have contacted our international friends and indicated that.

He said the island's nutmeg industry will have taken a "tremendous hit".

Mr Mitchell added the capital's 17th Century prison has been damaged, enabling several inmates to escape.

Reports from the island suggest looting is widespread and US students in St George's University have armed themselves against looters with knives, sticks and pepper spray.

As many as 15 people are reported to have died in the Caribbean as the storm swept through the other islands of Tobago, Barbados and St Vincent.

The storm is forecast to strike Jamaica on Friday and Cuba at the weekend and is thought to be the worst to hit the Caribbean in a decade.


The BBC's Juliet Dunlop
"Grenada's capital, Saint George's, was devastated"

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