TOURIST hotspot Maho Beach has been left unrecognisable after Hurricane Irma lashed the island of Saint Martin with life-threatening winds and rain.
The normally-idyllic beach is located on the Dutch side of Saint Martin, known as Sint Maarten. It’s famous for the Princess Juliana International Airport located right next door, which has seen it become a popular site for travellers looking to take thrillseeking pictures of planes that appear in touching distance overhead.
Local bars reportedly display flight arrival times on boards outside, with a New Zealand woman killed this year by the jet blast.
However the beach has been rendered unrecognisable by the Category 5 storm that has seen the island lashed by winds of up to 300km/h.
Live Beach Cam footage from this week shows cars smashed into fences, corrugated iron that appears to have come off roofs and grey wind and rain coming in sideways.
Pictures from the airport show the check-in lounge flooded and sand blown onto the runway. Walkways and buildings have been damaged with rocks reportedly smashed into planes.
Acting airport CEO Michel Hyman said in a statement: “We regret any inconvenience this will cause, but must stress that the safety and security of all is priority number one at SXM Airport.”
“We will continue to closely monitor the developments of Hurricane Irma as it passes over our area and keep all our personnel, users and stakeholders informed of any further developments as these occur, via the various media outlets.”
Vliegveld ‘Princess Juliana International Airport’ op #SintMaartenis ook platgewaaid door #orkaan #Irma… #SXM
2 / #Vliegveld ‘Princess Juliana International Airport’ op #SintMaarten is ook platgewaaid door #orkaan #Irma – #Philipsburg #SXM #Maho
The island has been one of the worst hit in the path of the Hurricane, with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte saying the airport and port have been devastated.
“The priority now is to bring emergency aid to the people … consisting of sending food and water to 40,000 people over the coming five days,” Dutch Interior Minister Ronald Plasterk said.
Eight people have been killed on the French side of the island.