Briton 'very thankful' after being airlifted from hurricane zone

Updated: 

A British tourist caught in the path of Hurricane Irma has said he is "thankful to be here" after he was rescued by the US Air Force.

Alex Woolfall was on holiday on the Caribbean island of St Martin when the historic storm struck.

The PR consultant, from London, went on Twitter to post updates as winds battered the Westin Hotel, where he was sheltering in a concrete stairwell.

Hurricane Irma's likely path across Florida
(PA graphic)

He wrote: "My God this noise! It's like standing behind a jet engine!! Constant booms & bangs. At least concrete stairwell not moving"

Mr Woolfall said he was airlifted to safety in Puerto Rico by a military plane as powerful Hurricane Jose was approaching.

"I am just tired but very thankful to be here," he told the Press Association after his rescue. "I think probably all those on vacation would say it was a nightmare but it's over for us.

"What about the people of St Martin and the other islands? I just hope the aid and support they need comes."

Just been airlifted off #StMaarten by @usairforce to whom I owe my life. Thx so much for prayers & msgs. Safe at last pic.twitter.com/3pGpJqOSzZ

-- alex woolfall (@woolfallalex) September 10, 2017

Mr Woolfall described the devastation on the island after Irma hit.

"It's very badly damaged and it's heart-breaking to see people whose homes have been destroyed sitting outside in the street, especially when you see young children too."

Mr Woolfall said local hotel staff continued coming to work, despite the damage to their own property, while the manager worked tirelessly to arrange planes.

"I found that astonishing and very moving," he added.