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Hurricane-hit islands are 'living consequences of climate change'

Friday, September 08, 2017

WASHINGTON, DC, United States (AFP) — Island nations devastated by Hurricane Irma are “living the consequences of climate change”, said the prime minister of the two-island nation of Barbuda and Antigua yesterday.

Antigua and Barbuda were blasted by Hurricane Irma, one of the strongest ever to charge across the Atlantic Ocean, packing winds of 180 miles per hour (290 kilometres per hour).

Irma damaged 95 per cent of the islands' properties and left Barbuda covered in rubble and “barely habitable”, said Prime Minister Gaston Browne.

“These storms are more ferocious, they are coming in greater frequency — evidence that climate change is real,” Browne said in an interview with CNN.

“We're living the consequences of climate change.”

Irma has packed sustained winds of over 180 mph (295 kph) for more than 33 hours, making it the longest-lasting top-intensity cyclone ever recorded, France's national weather service said.

It comes on the heels of Hurricane Harvey, which drenched Texas with deadly floods.

The next big storm, Hurricane Jose, is already churning in the Atlantic behind Irma.

“Those who do not believe in climate change, we're hoping that when they would have looked at these natural disasters that they'll change [their] position,” Browne said.

“All of us need to believe in it and take collective action.”