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At least 12 dead as Hurricane Irma ravages Caribbean

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Adam Mukamal via Getty Images
Tourists would often cower beneath the blast of the jet engines

Video posted by the St. Maarten government showed parts of the Princess Juliana International Airport's roof getting blown off.

Thrill seekers come to Maho beach in droves to snap a picture with planes flying overhead.

More than half of the territory's population of three million was without power, with rivers breaking their banks in the center and north of the island.

Andre van der Kamp, commander of the Dutch ship Zeeland, tweeted that the Zeeland and Pelikaan would be trying to moor on Sint Maarten to deliver emergency aid on Thursday, but they needed to complete a safety check of the port first. Officials say rebuilding the infrastructure remains crucial in the recovery process and getting aid to the residents who remain in flooded conditions.

Video taken by the Dutch military shows buildings flattened and pools of floodwater from where the storm has hit.

The world-famous St Martin airport, where planes fly over beach-goers' heads and plane spotters cling to fences to feel the jet blast of aircraft taking off, has been severely damaged. "Houses are under water, cars are floating through the streets, inhabitants are sitting in the dark in ruined houses and are cut off from the outside world".

The damage at Princess Juliana Airport made it hard for aid to arrive.

"The situation is serious", Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Friday when asked about reports of looting on the island - known as Sint Maarten in Dutch - adding that extra troops and police were on their way.

At least five people on the island are reported to have been killed in the storm, which packed winds of around 175mph as it tore through the region.

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