Sir Richard Branson has revealed that his home on Necker Island has been "completely and utterly devastated" by Hurricane Irma. The entrepreneur, who retreated to the concrete wine cellar at the property when the Category 5 hurricane struck on Wednesday, said he and his team on the island were all safe but the buildings and trees had been swept away.
Speaking via satellite phone for a blog post on the Virgin website, Sir Richard said: "It is a traumatic time here in the British Virgin Islands. I have never seen anything like this hurricane. All of the team who stayed on Necker and Moskito during the hurricane are safe and well.
Necker Island was struck by Hurricane Irma on Wednesday
"We took shelter from the strongest hurricane ever inside the concrete cellar on Necker and very, very fortunately it held firm. Our thoughts go out to everyone affected by the disaster elsewhere in the BVI, Caribbean and beyond."
The 67-year-old added: "I know we are fortunate here on Necker and Moskito. Our wonderful team are fine. I know we will all band together and rebuild the islands to become stronger and even more wonderful than they were before."
Sir Richard Branson and his team took shelter in the wine cellar when the hurricane hit
On Thursday Sir Richard's son Sam Branson had revealed that his father's private island had been "destroyed" by the hurricane in an Instagram post, and also encouraged anyone else in the path of the storm to find safety. "Glad to say that all humans on Necker are ok although a lot of buildings destroyed," he wrote. "Very concerned for our friends and everyone on the neighbouring islands and people in its path. Please don't take this hurricane lightly if it is heading your way. If your building is not very solid, do find somewhere safe! Homes can be rebuilt but lives can't. Nature warning us again of the impact of #climatechange. We must all do more to combat this."
Hurricane Irma is the most powerful storm ever recorded in the Atlantic, and killed at least ten people as it tore through the Caribbean on Wednesday. It is believed to have destroyed nearly all buildings on the island of Barbuda, and caused serious damage on the island of St Martin.
See the latest travel features here.