Hurricane-struck Caribbean receives more than 60 tonnes of British aid

Updated: 

More than 60 tonnes of UK aid has now reached the Caribbean to support the victims of Hurricane Irma.

The British assistance effort now involves more than 1,000 military personnel, 50 police officers and 30 aid workers.

And a further 60 tonnes of supplies are en route to the British overseas territories in the Caribbean on board HMS Ocean, which - along with other essential items - is carrying 5,000 hygiene kits, 500,000 water purification tablets and 10,000 buckets.

The latest update from the Department for International Development (DfID) came as an international body signalled it would resist UK pressure to change its rules so that the assistance can be classed as part of the aid budget.

Downing Street has made clear that Prime Minister Theresa May is "frustrated" with rules set by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) which mean overseas development aid cash cannot be allocated to relatively high-income countries like Antigua, Anguilla, Turks and Caicos and the British Virgin Islands.

International Development Secretary Priti Patel has written to the OECD's Development Assistance Committee (DAC) calling for reforms to reflect the vulnerability of island states which stand in the path of tropical storms like Irma.

The DAC has said it is "open to discussing issues of concern with its member countries" and "it is important to stay relevant in a world with changing realities".

But chairwoman Charlotte Petri Gornitzka told the BBC: "We are not keen overall to reopen rules that very often."

Assistance provided in the past few days by the UK includes:

:: Restoration of electricity to the main power station on the British Virgin Islands with the help of UK troops and DfID logisticians;

:: Deployment of six medical health experts to Antigua to assess the healthcare capacity and the potential for disease outbreaks;

:: Air delivery of more than 150 shelter kits and 720 litres of water to the Turks and Caicos Islands;

:: Flights delivering nearly five tonnes of food and water to Anguilla and three tonnes to the British Virgin Islands.

Ms Patel said: "The Government has been working non-stop to get vital assistance to the victims of Hurricane Irma in the last week.

"Aid continues to arrive on the affected islands on a daily basis, and we'll continue to do all that is needed to get people back on their feet.

"We are also looking at long-term recovery on the islands. We want to get families back into houses, and schools and hospitals working again as soon as possible."

The UK Government has announced £57 million in support for the immediate recovery effort, and has said it will match any donations to the British Red Cross hurricane appeal up to a maximum of £3 million.