A beauty queen and her pregnant sister are missing from Barbuda Island in the Caribbean after Hurricane Irma raked it with devastating winds.
The mother of Asha and Afiya Frank has not heard from her daughters for more than 36 hours, Daily Mail reported. The island they were on was virtually flattened by Irma and has been cut off from the world since.
“The winds are so strong and there is such extreme low pressure that houses can implode. I just don’t think the world has seen a hurricane like this before. It is just so difficult to imagine,” Claire Frank, the women’s mother, said.
Asha Frank, 29, a former beauty queen and a member of the Barbuda Council, texted her mother at 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday. That was the last Claire Frank had heard from any of her two daughters or her husband.
“It is the same for everyone with relatives on Barbuda. There are 1,700 people on the island and nobody has been able to communicate to establish what has happened,” the distraught mother said.
Afiya Frank, 27, is seven months pregnant with her first child and was set to return home to the U.K. next week.
“I keeping thinking of the scene from the Wizard of Oz when people were blown out of their house in fiction,” Claire Frank said.
“I have heard reports online of people saying they had to hold on to the walls inside their houses to avoid being pulled out by the pressure inside the hurricane,” she added.
Frank said that her family was building a brick house in the island’s main village of Corrington, but thinks that Hurricane Irma’s immense power was too much even for their sturdy home.
“People on Barbuda usually have strong brick houses, but this was a storm that not even those houses could withstand,” Claire Frank said.
“Who knows how strong it will have turned out to be? It depends on who built it. I trust the builder, but this hurricane has been so devastating,” she added.
Frank, who has lived in Barbuda for most of the past 25 years, said that her daughter had been through Hurricane Luis in 1995.
“The girls are very resilient. They are Barbudans. It is not as if they are on holiday and do not know what to do, but I think the experience will have been extremely traumatic for them,” she said.
“I am hopeful they are OK, but none of us can estimate the experience of being in a hurricane like this,” she added.
Hurricane Irma blew past the Dominican Republic on Thursday after devastating a string of Caribbean islands and killing at least 11 people as one of the most powerful Atlantic storms in a century took aim at Florida.
At least 8 people were killed in the tiny French-Dutch island of Saint Martin, with 23 others injured, and the toll was likely to rise as emergency services reached isolated communities, officials said.
The eye of the hurricane passed north of Puerto Rico early Thursday, battering the U.S. territory with high winds and heavy rains and leaving nearly 70 percent of the population without electricity, Governor Ricardo Rossello said.
The eye of Irma was moving west-northwest off the northern coast of the Dominican Republic on Thursday morning, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
Irma’s precise course remained uncertain but it was likely to be downgraded to a Category 4 storm by the time it makes landfall in Florida, according to the NHC.
Irma has become a little less organized over the past few hours but the threat of a direct hurricane impact in Florida over the weekend and early next week was increasing, the NHC said.
Reuters contributed to this report.