Every aviation enthusiasts’ dream is to visit Maho Beach in St. Maarten. Unfortunately, the record-breakingly huge Hurricane Irma has devastated the French-Dutch island, and that includes its famous airport. Princess Juliana International Airport was demolished in the 185 mph (297 km/h) winds, and images show the devastation inside the check-in area on the interior and extensive damage to the exterior of the airport.
Water flooded the inside of the terminal, and sand from Maho Beach was blown onto the runway. The Dutch Navy has prioritized cleaning the airport up for reopening, as no aid flights can land at the airport due to all of the debris on-around the runway. Currently, only emergency military flights can land at the airport, and nothing can land once the sun goes down.
Princess Juliana Airport was “hit hard, with what appeared to be sand washed up on parts of the main terminal and the building’s roof is extensively damaged. No aircraft were visible on the tarmac,” according to the Associated Press.
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Thursday said four bodies had been recovered on the French side of the island, lowering the previous death toll. “The death toll is still uncertain because clearing operations are underway,” Philippe said at a news conference in Paris. About 50 people have been injured. On the Dutch side, government officials in the Netherlands said the hurricane had caused enormous devastation on their side of the island, killing one person and injuring several others. Officials say up to 95 percent of the island was destroyed.
Six C-130 aircraft from the Puerto Rico, New York and Kentucky Air National Guard are providing evacuation flights. 1,268 American citizens were evacuated on 11 flights Friday and Saturday, the Puerto Rico Air National Guard reports.
This video shows the 106th Rescue Wing of the New York National Air Guard on board one of the C-130 flights to San Juan:
Featured image from Twitter / @Bondtehond.