A Royal Navy helicopter has rescued three children and a British person trapped beneath rubble for several days after Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas.
The Wildcat helicopter, operating from Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Mounts Bay, was flying over Great Abaco Island to assess the damage when its crew were called to rescue a casualty from Elbow Cay, the Royal Navy said.
The crew pulled the person from the rubble and took them back to Mounts Bay to be given emergency medication before being airlifted to the capital Nassau, it added.
The Royal Navy said that the Wildcat also rescued a woman, her two children and a baby to Nassau.
Medical officer Surgeon Lieutenant Rebecca Miles said: “The children were in a poorly condition and required immediate medical care.
“It was hugely rewarding to use my training and skills to provide essential and immediate life-saving care to this family.”
Flight Commander Lieutenant Lee Holborn added: “We are ready to provide assistance where necessary and it is always rewarding to know that you have made a significant difference, not only to the wider island, but to the individual families of those affected.”
On a later flight, RFA medical technician Graham Trevaskis helped an elderly woman with diabetes who was also airlifted to Nassau.
The RFA Mounts Bay crew have so far delivered shelter kits, ration packs and water, the Royal Navy said.
The Wildcat will also be airlifting relief to outlying, cut-off communities, it added.
The Royal Navy said that it will bring ashore heavy plant equipment such as all-terrain quads, dump trucks and diggers to clear away debris and allow more aid to reach the island.
It added: “RFA Mounts Bay’s specialist crew and kit make her best placed to open the port and clear the airport runway so more international aid, including relief arriving from the United States, can reach the island.”
RFA Mounts Bay has been in the Caribbean since June in preparation for the hurricane season and was re-tasked last week to sail to the Bahamas in anticipation of Hurricane Dorian, the Royal Navy said.
The ship has water carriers, hygiene and shelter kits on board, as well as the helicopter which is being used to fly over the area to assess the damage and airlift in supplies.
Captain Rob Anders, commanding officer of RFA Mounts Bay, said: “RFA Mounts Bay has been working alongside the Bahamian National Emergency and Management Agency and US Coast Guard personnel, using our Wildcat helicopter to conduct initial assessments on Abaco Island and we have landed reconnaissance troops ashore.
“I am pleased to be able to use our people and equipment to send water and food ashore to provide aid to the Bahamian people.
“We hope that our presence in the area in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Dorian will provide some peace of mind and reassurance to all those affected.”
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “The highly skilled crew and specialist equipment of RFA Mounts Bay have been on call since June to support our overseas territories and friends in the hurricane season.
“Its Wildcat helicopter has begun conducting reconnaissance flights of the Bahamas to help assess the damage and the crew have begun distributing UK aid.
“My thoughts remain with those affected and our world-class military will continue to assist the Bahamas government to offer relief and aid to those who need it most.”
International Development Secretary Alok Sharma said: “The images of devastation and destruction across the Bahamas are truly shocking.
“The clock is now ticking to get help to those in need, and I’m pleased that Mounts Bay has begun to deliver lifesaving relief items to those in desperate need.
“Sadly, we know all too well that hurricane season in the Caribbean can wreak this level of catastrophe, which is why we sent a team of DFID humanitarian experts, and prepositioned water carriers, hygiene kits and shelter kits on board.”
“Strike teams” of ex-military volunteers at British disaster response charity Team Rubicon UK are expected to arrive on Saturday to begin to distribute essential aid where it is needed most.
The charity said it expects its volunteer “greyshirts” will be in the Bahamas for eight weeks working in Grand Bahama and Abaco.
Afghanistan veteran and operations response manager Paul Taylor said he and his fellow volunteers will do all they can to help the most vulnerable.
He said: “We know that tens of thousands of people were affected by this devastating hurricane and are now in dire need of humanitarian relief.”