Couple trapped in rat infested room on lawless island wrecked by Irma have been 'abandoned by the British Government'

A British couple have been hiding in a rat infested bathroom with no water for five days as the Caribbean island they were living on descends into lawlessness in the wake of Hurricane Irma, their family have said.  Jos Smart, 26, and his girlfriend Julia Taylor, 30, say they have been abandoned by the British Government and are too afraid to leave the half destroyed hotel that they found refuge in amid reports of looting and violence.  The Category  5 storm hit the island on Wednesday and it has since been placed under curfew to try and restore order.  British Troops and police officers have been sent to help the British Virgin Islands (BVI), but families of those on St Maarten, which is Dutch and shares the island with the French St Martin to the north, say that because it is not a British territory their loved ones have been abandoned. The yacht the couple were looking after was destroyed by Hurricane Irma  Jos and Julia have not received any support from the Foreign Office, their family say, and officials could not even tell Julia where to go for help when she contacted them on Saturday.  Ian Smart, Jos' father, said that they were too scared to leave the room as the "lawlessness is getting worse".  "They have not had any water for a day, they have got a bit of juice, but they are trying to keep under the radar," he said.  Jos, who is originally from Cumbria, and Julia, from Haslemere, Surrey, have been working on a super yacht in the area for a number of years and he had just completed is Ocean Yachtmasters course. The 79ft boat they had been living on now lies destroyed in the harbour.  Mr Smart, an architect, said: "During Irma they said that the sounds were apocalyptic and they have likened it to a war zone.  "They are holed up in a half demolished bathroom and their phone is running out of battery.  "They are in a bit of a state. There have been rats in their room looking for food. At night time there were people knocking on their door, and so there are 12 hours of sheer blackness to get through with the terror of who is going to knock down the door. " Hurricane Irma batters the Caribbean, in pictures The family have contacted the FCO and their local MP Rory Stewart, who is also a foreign office minister, but say that it is a one way conversation with them informing officials of the couple's situation but not being given any information or help in return.  Jos' sister Ayla said: " The British consulate and foreign office have given no advice or help, other than to take Jos & Julia's name and number. Julia called the consulate on Saturday and they couldn't even tell her where to get assistance and information on the island." Mr Smart said that alongside the fact that the pair are running out of food and water, there are claims coming out of the island that there has been looting with armed criminals overpowering security guards and the army.  The couple had been due to fly back to Britain for a two week holiday on Thursday, but the KLM flight has been cancelled.  Hurricane Irma – as of 3pm Sunday The airline has booked them onto another flight which is due to leave tomorrow, but they have no idea how they will get to the airport or if they will be allowed in without copies of their tickets.  Mr Smart said: "The concern is that the flight doesn't run, or they can't get on it." American and Dutch citizens have been already evacuated, it is understood, while some  British citizens are said to have been pulled out of evacuation queues meant for other countries.  Mr Smart, who called on the Government to help them get to airport at least, added: "They must not forget that they are British and they deserve just as much help as British citizens in British territory." His calls were echoed by Pauline Paterson, who has lost contact with her brother Donald Bishop, 58, who was holidaying in St Maarten.  She said: "My understanding is that the US and Dutch took their people out but the British Government have done nothing. It is totally and utterly disgraceful. "There are a lot of concerned relatives who are not getting any information." A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We have been in regular contact with the Dutch and the Americans since the onset of this crisis to co-ordinate our response and help for all those affected. "We understand that evacuation is based on individual need, rather than nationality, with the most vulnerable prioritised. It is not due to the lack of an arrangement. Indeed a number of British citizens were evacuated from the island by the US yesterday. "We are in touch with British nationals on St Maarten and have advised them to follow the local advice on the ground. While we are unable to get a consular team to Saint Maarten, we have deployed staff to Curacao to help British nationals evacuated there from Saint Maarten."


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