Crisis experts from Peterborough-based Thomas Cook have flown to the aid of thousands of holiday makers in the hurricane-stricken Caribbean.
A team of 18 staff have been put into Cuba and the Dominican Republic to oversee the evacuation of hundreds of holiday makers as Hurricane Irma batters the islands leaving a trail of misery in its wake.
The operation is being overseen by Thomas Cook’s Duty Office team based in the company’s offies at Westpoint, in Lynch Wood.
A helpline has been set up for people planning to holiday with Thomas Cook in the Caribbean over the next few days.
A spokeswoman for Thomas Cook said: “We’ve sent 18 members of our special assistance team into Cuba and the Dominican Republic in case they are required to support customers during the hurricane.
“Five of them are in Cayo Coco in Cuba, seven in Holguin in Cuba and six in the Dominican Republic.”
Thomas Cook has 1,500 holiday makers in the Dominican Republic and 4,800 in Cuba.
Some 1,738 of the customers in Cuba were in the Cayos and have been moved to Varadero/Havana as a precautionary measure.
In addition, Thomas Cook has 5,780 customers in Orlando, Florida.
The spokeswoman said: “The Cuban authorities issued an evacuation for Cayo Coco, Cayo Guillermo and Cayo Santa Maria for the morning of September 7.
“Our resort teams and our special assistance team are helping our customers with this evacuation to Varadero and Havana and will remain with them throughout the journey.
“We have already evacuated our customers from the Florida Keys and Miami Beach based on local authority advice.”
Hurricane Irma was classified as a category 5 hurricane on Tuesday and has left a trail of devastation in the Caribbean as it heads towards Florida.
The hurricane is currently tracking close to the north coast of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, and is forecast to move towards the north coast of Cuba tonight.
A hurricane warning is in place for the Dominican Republic and Cuba, and a hurricane watch is in place for Miami and the Florida Keys.
The spokeswoman added: “We’re offering free amendments or cancellations for customers travelling to the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Miami and Orlando up to and including September 10.
“Anyone due to travel during this time should please contact us on 01733 224 536 to discuss travel arrangements.”