12 SEP 2017: Dutch King Willem-Alexander says the scenes of devastation he witnessed on the Caribbean island of St. Martin in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma are the worst he's ever seen.

In images broadcast by Dutch national network NOS, Willem-Alexander said he's seen a lot of war zones in his life but never anything like this.

Willem-Alexander arrived on the island Monday and said he was encouraged to see residents already working together to rebuild the shattered capital, Philipsburg.

St. Martin is an island shared between a French territory and the former Dutch colony of St. Maarten, a largely autonomous part of the Dutch kingdom with a population of around 40,000.

Willem-Alexander is scheduled to fly Tuesday to the nearby Dutch islands of Saba and St. Eustatius, which also were hit by Irma, but suffered less damage than St. Martin.

Trying to rebuild

Hundreds of people across an island shared by Dutch St. Martin and French St. Martin are trying to rebuild the lives they had before Hurricane Irma hit.

Help was making it to the island, from the Dutch and French governments, other nations and private organizations. A French military ship with supplies was due to arrive Tuesday, coinciding with a visit by French President Emmanuel Macron.

Hundreds of tourists are still trying to leave the island, with dozens lining up outside the Princess Juliana Airport, where only five large letters of its name remains.

Amid a widespread power outage, many are struggling to maintain a semblance of the life they had before Irma as they fight off hunger and thirst.

 

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