Hurricane Irma has inflicted $1.44bm (£1.09bn, €1.2bn) worth of damage to infrastructure in the French overseas islands of Saint Martin and Saint Barthelemy alone, according to latest estimates.

In a statement on Saturday (9 September), the Caisse Central de Reassurance – France's public insurance agency – said the amount covers damage to houses, vehicles and businesses.

The agency added that Hurricane Irma is "one of the biggest natural catastrophes to have occurred in France in 35 years."

It also said affected residents have 10 days to make a claim starting from Saturday, when the status of a natural disaster was officially declared

Saint Barthelemy is less than 40km southeast of Saint Martin, which is divided between France and the Netherlands.

According to the French interior ministry, so far nine people had been reported dead on the two islands. Additionally, the Dutch military was patrolling St Martin to prevent looting.

Hurricane Irma Saint Martin
Overturned cars and broken palm trees are seen in Orient Bay on the French Caribbean island of Saint Martin on 7 September 2017. Lionel Chamoiseau/AFP