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About 9,000 evacuated after Irma, flights back into the island soon

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - Minister Responsible for Civil Aviation and the airport Mellissa Arrindell-Doncher on Sunday reported that almost 9,000 people have been evacuated from St. Maarten after the passing of hurricane Irma. The Minister has been present at the Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) almost every day to assist in the coordinating of the evacuation flights.

As of Sunday, September 17, the Dutch Military moved 1,569 people to Curacao, the US military moved approximately 1,800 people, evacuations using commercial aircraft were approximately 4,000 people (including private charters), about 600 people were moved by Royal Caribbean cruise liners Majesty of the Seas and Adventure of the seas as part of the company’s humanitarian relief.

Military aircraft from Brazil, Colombia, Spain, Canada and France also moved nationals of those countries totaling approximately 500.

The Minister explained that as the relief flights are beginning to slow, government will look to announce when residents abroad can return home as well as the re-commencement of Commercial flights into the island. “It was quite an exercise assisting with the management of evacuation flights as well as the arrival of relief and humanitarian efforts into St. Maarten. Lessons were learnt and will be applied in future disaster/emergency situations.

There are many people, airport personnel, police, immigration, customs and Marechausee who dedicated hours upon hours on PJIA to ensure that the logistics and movement of people was as manageable as possible,” she said.

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