(CNN)— Reports of fatalities and widespread damage in northern Caribbean islands began to emerge Wednesday night after Hurricane Irma blasted through, packing devastating winds and rain.
“Barbuda is literally rubble,” Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda told an interviewer with ABS TV/Radio Antigua.”The entire housing stock was damaged,” Browne said after visiting the island. “It is just a total devastation.”
About 1,800 people live on Barbuda, Browne said, adding that there currently is no water or phone service for residents. He said one fatality, an infant, had been confirmed.
Charles Fernandez, minister of foreign affairs and international trade for Antigua and Barbuda, told ABS that destruction on Barbuda was “upwards of 90%.”
Irma destroyed government buildings, tore roofs from houses and left northern Caribbean islands without power or communications.
Antigua, Barbuda, St. Martin/St. Maarten and St. Barts felt the fury of the Category 5 storm, one of the strongest ever recorded in the Atlantic, according to updates from the region.
French Interior Minister Gérard Collomb said some of the strongest buildings on the island of 75,000 people had been destroyed, boding ill for weaker structures on St. Martin.
“In terms of material damage, the four strongest buildings on the island of St. Martin have been destroyed,” which meant that weaker structures likely had been damaged or destroyed, he told reporters.