Irma triggers massive destruction in Barbuda; at least 1 killed, officials say

Hurricane Irma left unprecedented destruction in its wake Wednesday on the Caribbean island of Barbuda, and has killed at least one person, the prime minister told reporters, calling it "absolute devastation, and this is no hyperbole."

Prime Minister Gaston Browne said during a Facebook Live briefing that about 95 percent of the properties in Barbuda suffered damage from Irma. "Barbuda is barely habitable."

"A significant number of the houses have been totally destroyed," said Lionel Hurst, chief of staff to Browne.

Browne said he expected the costs to repair the damaged infrastructure in Barbuda to "be no less than $150 million, and that is no exaggeration."


The prime minister confirmed that one infant died as Irma slammed Barbuda when the baby's mother was trying to escape a destroyed property. He also said, "at least 60 percent of the population of Barbuda is actually homeless" now.

All communications with Antigua and Barbuda reportedly were lost after Irma hit the islands around 2 a.m. Wednesday. 

"We have not been able to make any contact with Barbuda since about midnight U.K. time," High Commissioner for Antigua and Barbuda Karen Mae-Hill said. "The last report we had from our sister island was the police station was destroyed, the roof came off completely. Houses all around Codrington, the main settlement on Barbuda, have lost their roofs."


Browne asked residents of Barbuda to be patient, support one another and to be vigilant post-Hurricane Irma.

"I want to ensure the Barbudan people that we are giving this our urgent attention, and will deliver relief as soon as possible," Browne said, before adding that the people of Barbuda are "in relatively good spirits."

"It's pointless doing otherwise in the sense that you have no control over" the circumstances, Browne said.

Browne earlier said there were no deaths in Antigua.

Hurricane Irma rammed Barbuda early Wednesday with 185-mph winds as the most powerful Atlantic hurricane in recorded history.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Nicole Darrah is a Breaking News Producer for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter @nicoledarrah.