SAILORS from Portsmouth are among those providing humanitarian aid in Dominica after a deadly tropical storm battered the Caribbean island.
Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) Lyme Bay arrived at the island on Tuesday and is now working with several communities left in turmoil after Tropical Storm Erika struck.
With many deaths already confirmed and hundreds of people who have been left homeless, it is right that Britain offers helpMichael Fallon, defence secretary
Homes have been levelled, with roads and bridges swept away by severe flash floods, mudslides and rock falls.
Many villages and towns are also without running water and electricity.
RFA Lyme Bay came laden with food, supplies and shelter to aid those affected by the crisis, which has claimed the lives of at least 20 people.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said the storm’s impact had been ‘severe’, and added: ‘With many deaths already confirmed and hundreds of people who have been left homeless, it is right that Britain offers help.
‘RFA Lyme Bay is well placed to provide important, immediate assistance to Dominica in order to ease suffering and to assist the population in beginning to rebuild their lives.’
RFA Lyme Bay is specifically designed to land large numbers of troops and equipment ashore into unprepared areas and is ideally suited to offer assistance to the island.
Within hours of arriving in the region, a Lynx helicopter was sent out to survey the scale of the tragedy.
Lt Cdr Rob Kenchington, Lynx helicopter pilot, is one of those to witness the level of devastation from the air.
He said: ‘We knew before we arrived that there had been wide-spread damage caused by Erika, but the flight confirmed the scale of the devastation.
‘Although no two situations are the same, we have trained hard to keep our skills for these situations honed and are ready and well prepared to help.’
The ship’s commanding officer, Captain Paul Minter, led a disaster management team, made up of medical chiefs and logistics personnel, to join a crisis briefing.
Captain Minter said the aim was to distribute much-needed supplies and reduce further suffering on the island.
He said: ‘Our aim is to provide relief where it is most needed as quickly as possible.’