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

A flooded street on the French overseas island of Saint-Martin after it was hit by Hurrican Irma.
A flooded street on the French overseas island of Saint-Martin after it was hit by Hurrican Irma.PHOTO: AFP
The damage of Hurricane Irma in Philipsburg, on the Dutch Caribbean island of Sint Maarten.
The damage of Hurricane Irma in Philipsburg, on the Dutch Caribbean island of Sint Maarten.PHOTO: AFP
The damage of Hurricane Irma in Philipsburg, on the Dutch Caribbean island of Sint Maarten.
The damage of Hurricane Irma in Philipsburg, on the Dutch Caribbean island of Sint Maarten.PHOTO: AFP
A flooded street on the French overseas island of Saint-Martin.
A flooded street on the French overseas island of Saint-Martin.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Island nations devastated by Hurricane Irma are "living the consequences of climate change", said the prime minister of the twin-island nation of Barbuda and Antigua on Thursday (Sept 7).

Antigua and Barbuda were blasted by Hurricane Irma, one of the strongest ever to charge across the Atlantic Ocean, packing winds of 290kmh.

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 295kmh 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."