Hurricane Irma hammers Caribbean islands

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Video of massive flooding in St. Maarten as Hurricane Irma hit. Video from Pequeno McLean via Facebook. (WABC)

Dutch authorities are trying to gauge the extent of damage in Saint Maarten from Hurricane Irma, while French President Emmanuel Macron says he expects that victims and heavy damages in the French West Indies.

Saint Maarten is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and shares an island with the French territory of St. Martin. The island is east of Puerto Rico.

Dutch Interior Minister Ronald Plasterk says the damage wreaked on the Caribbean island of St. Maarten by Category 5 Hurricane Irma is "enormous."

Dutch Caribbean coast guard spokesman Roderick Gouverneur says coast guard officials in Curacao have lost communication with their base in Saint Maarten.

Plasterk told reporters in The Hague on Wednesday that the damage caused by Irma's direct hit on the island "is so major that we don't yet have a full picture, also because contact is difficult at the moment."

He says it remains unclear if Irma caused casualties.

About 100 troops are on the island helping local authorities assess damage and repair vital infrastructure in the storm's aftermath. Two navy ships are also steaming to the island to offer help.

French President Emmanuel Macron says he expects that victims and heavy damages will be discovered when Hurricane Irma has left the islands of Saint Martin and Saint Barthelemy in the French West Indies.

ABC News reports that at least 2 people have died.

Speaking at a crisis center set up at the Interior Ministry, Macron told reporters Wednesday night that while if it's too early to give a precise toll and figures, he can already say "the toll will be harsh and cruel."

Macron said there will be victims and that "the material damage on both islands is considerable."

Saint Barthelemy is a French overseas island in the West Indies while nearby Saint Martin is a half-French half-Dutch island.

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