A Bury St Edmunds woman whose two nieces who went missing on a hurricane-ravaged Caribbean island has today revealed they have been found safe and well.
Former Miss Antigua Asha Frank, 29, and her sister Afiya, 27, who is seven-months pregnant, were both on the island of Barbuda when it was hit by hurricane Irma.
Their aunt Ruth Bolton, 48, had not heard from them since the Whatsapp message they sent at 10.30pm on Wednesday, as the island was being lashed by 185mph winds, saying they were preparing for the hurricane.
She described the silence as ‘unbearable’ after failing to hear from them for more than 24 hours.
But today Ruth revealed on Twitter that the pair had been found safe and well.
She said she had been unable to talk to the girls directly, but had been told they are ‘alive and well and helping organise evacuation efforts’.
“That’s my girls. We now know that they are safe and unharmed,” she added.
It is believed the sisters are now among hundreds evacuating Barbuda as yet another storm, Hurricane Jose, looks to be heading towards the island.
Asha, a former Miss Antigua who works as a local councillor, had been helping with emergency procedures before Hurricane Irma hit. Ruth said: “They had boarded up the house that my sister had just finished building with wood and stocked up on water etc.
“They are always well prepared for storms in Barbuda. It’s a brick house and hopefully stood some of the storm.”
The girls’ parents, Mackenzie and Claire Frank, are currently in the UK, having come over for a summer break.
The family has launched a fund-raising page to pay for a satellite phone so that the island has communication.
They have set a modest target of £5,000 but say if anything more is raised it will go towards helping Barbudans rebuild their lives via the local council.
To support the fund, visit gofundme.com/barbuda-hurricane-fund.