TWO British sisters feared to have died on the storm-ravaged island Barbuda are “alive and well”, their auntie says.
Asha Frank, 29, and Afiya Frank, 27, are now helping out with evacuation efforts in the region after the Caribbean island was devastated by the 185mph winds of Hurricane Irma.
Afiya, who works as a beauty therapist and as an assistant manager at a hotel on the island, is seven months pregnant and had been due to fly back to the UK next week to give birth to her first child.
Auntie Bolton tweeted: “Alive and well and helping organise the evacuation effort #Barbuda.
“That’s my girls. We now know that they are safe and unharmed.”
The two sisters’ mum, Mrs Frank, from Suffolk, had earlier expressed fears the pair had been killed in the deadly storm.
She said she had been tormented by thoughts of images from the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz when the heroine Dorothy and her dog Toto are sucked into the sky by a tornado.
She said: “I keeping thinking of the scene from the Wizard of Oz when people were blown out of their house in fiction.
“I have heard reports online of people saying they had to hold on to the walls inside their houses to avoid being pulled out of by the pressure inside the hurricane.
“The winds are so strong and there is such extreme low pressure that houses can implode. I just don’t think the world has seen a hurricane like this before. It is just so difficult to imagine.”
She added: “It is the same for everyone with relatives on Barbuda. There are 1,700 people on the island and nobody has been able to communicate to establish what has happened.
“We don’t know because we haven’t heard anything and there has not been an individual head count – but I feel they are ok.”
Mrs Frank, who has lived for most of the last 25 years on Barbuda, said her daughters had previous experience of a hurricane as children when the island was hit by the 140mph winds of Hurricane Luis in 1995.
Speaking from the home of her sister Ruth Bolton in Badwell Ash, Suffolk, she said her family had been building a new brick house in the island’s main village of Corrington.
She said she expected the house to have been seriously damaged by the winds.
Mrs Frank added: “People on Barbuda usually have strong brick houses, but this was a storm that not even those houses could withstand.
“The house was nearly complete. It was structurally finished and we just had to complete the inside.
“The girls are very resilient. They are Barbudans. It is not as if they are on holiday and do not know what to do, but I think the experience will have been extremely traumatic for them.
“I am hopeful they are OK, but none of us can estimate the experience of being in a hurricane like this.”
Mrs Frank said her daughters had grown up in the UK, attending school in Thurston, Suffolk, before returning to live on Barbuda several years ago.
Her oldest daughter Asha who is a former teacher was crowned Miss Antigua and Barbuda two-years-ago and currently sits on the island’s council.
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