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Commandos spearhead relief efforts on Grand Turk

Op Ruman
14 September 2017
A British military task force of Royal Marines and Army Commandos has arrived to help the people of Grand Turk.

Royal Marines and Army Commandos became the first troops to reach the capital of the Turks and Caicos Islands - the spearhead of a much larger force arriving in the next few day to help islanders.

Royal Marines from 40 Commando and their specialist engineers from 24 Commando Regiment Royal Engineers sat down with community leaders, disaster relief experts and a United Nations Response Team to decide what assistance was required first.

The troops also helped unload 2,000 bottles of water for residents from a merchant vessel docked at the pier.

Since being hit by Irma, water has begun to run low on the tiny island - one third the size of Portsmouth and home to about 3,700 people - due to severe damage to Grand Turk's treatment facility.

Over the past few days we have rapidly deployed to the worst affected areas of the Turks and Caicos islands

Major Alex Nixon Royal Marines

Major Alex Nixon RM, in charge of the relief mission to Grand Turk, said that since the hurricane islanders had been without communications, unaware of the international relief effort - including the UK's - and uncertain when help would arrive.

"Over the past few days we have rapidly deployed to the worst affected areas of the Turks and Caicos islands and are really pleased to assist this British Overseas Territory; we're here to help," he said.

Over the coming days Task Group Turks and Caicos Islands will be bolstered by more troops to assist local residents - spread across 300 islands, but thankfully concentrated on a handful - in restoring essential water treatment, aid distribution, and coordination and reconstruction efforts.

The efforts mirror those on the largest island in the chain, Providenciales, where an advance party of commandos arrived 24 hours ahead of the detachment on Grand Turk, which lies 75 miles to the east.

The UK military is supporting local authorities, alongside DFID and the FCO across all British Overseas Territories affected by Hurricanes Irma and Jose.

There are currently almost 700 military personnel and more than 50 police in the Caribbean region, amphibious ship RFA Mounts Bay, two aircraft and two helicopters (plus nine more aboard HMS Ocean heading to the region) capable of transporting aid and personnel between the islands, and over 20 tonnes of aid.

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