The volatile situation sparked by Hurricane Irma has led to a mass jailbreak in Tortola, one of the British Virgin Islands (BVI), where more than 100 "very serious prisoners" are now at large, the UK Minister for Europe and the Americas has said. Sir Alan Duncan made the remarks as he addressed the Commons on 12 September.

At least 38 people were killed and thousands left homeless when the hurricane struck several islands in the Caribbean during September. Most of the territories impacted are controlled by the UK, the US, France and the Netherlands.

The hurricane, which was later downgraded from a Category 5 to a Category 2 storm, also hit Florida, where another 12 people were killed and hundreds of thousands displaced.

Duncan said the jailbreak was a "serious threat of the complete breakdown of law and order" in the BVI, where five people are believed to have died.

"The prison was breached, and over 100 very serious prisoners ​escaped," he said. "So on Friday we put some Marines off RFA Mounts Bay to protect the governor and maintain law and order. I am pleased to say that 48 hours later we have been able significantly to reinforce the Marines.

"We have maintained and kept law and order on the British Virgin Islands, which at one point could have dramatically threatened the already unfortunate plight of those who have been hit by the hurricane," he continued.

It is not clear whether all the 100 fugitives have been taken back to prison.

Duncan's remarks came as Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is in the Caribbean to visit communities hit by the devastating hurricane.

His trip comes after the UK government was criticised for its perceived slow and inadequate response to help affected communities in its overseas territories.

Duncan said 20 tonnes of UK aid has arrived in the oversea territories, where more than 500,000 British nationals, either residents or tourists, "have been in the path of Hurricane Irma, which has caused devastation across an area spanning well over 1,000 miles".

At least nine tonnes of food and water supplies were due to be flown out to Anguilla, where four people were killed by the hurricane.

"A further 10,000 buckets, 2,500 solar lanterns and 300 shelter kits will be arriving this week on commercial flights," Duncan said. He added that 997 British military personnel had been deployed to the Caribbean.

Both Johnson and Prime Minister Theresa May said British troops sent to oversea territories to provide support were working round the clock.

May also announced the government would be increasing the relief fund for British Overseas Territories left devastated by Irma from £12m to £32m.

After chairing a Cobra meeting on Hurricane Irma on Monday 11 September, Johnson said that those affected by the hurricane remain "utmost in our thoughts and we are continuing to sending more police."

Hurricane Irma Caribbean response
Damage following Hurricane Irma is seen in Tortola, British Virgin Islands LPhot Joel Rouse/Royal Navy/MoD/Crown Copyright 2017/Reuters