Pregnant British woman and her sister both found safe on Irma-struck island after losing contact with family while helping rescue effort

Afiya, left and Asha, right, have not been heard from since last night - Facebook
Afiya, left and Asha, right, have not been heard from since last night - Facebook

There were fears for a pair of missing British sisters, who had not been heard from since Hurricane Irma hit the island they were staying on.

Delighted aunt Ruth Bolton today said on her fundraising page that Afiya Frank, 27, - who is seven months pregnant - and her sister Asha Frank, 29, were both all right.

She previously called on Richard Branson to help find her family, adding "The silence is unbearable."

She said on her GoFundMe page: "Today we have been getting a little news from Barbuda.

"The Team Antigua Atlantic Rowers managed to get word back and some film footage of the island.

"It has been frustrating waiting for news and the lack of information unbearable.

"We now know that everyone is accounted for."

She added: "Asha and Afiya Frank have been seen helping with the voluntary evacuation.

"Families are still trying to trace their loved ones and a boat and plane will travel back with more passengers tomorrow."

Asha is an ecological expert and former beauty queen - Credit: Facebook
Asha is an ecological expert and former beauty queen Credit: Facebook

Afiya Frank, 27, is due to give birth in November and was supposed to travel home next week to prepare to have her child in a British hospital due to lacking medical facilities in Barbuda, where she was staying.

She is missing along with her sister, Asha Frank, 29, who is an ecological expert who was on the island to help with marine conservation efforts.

Ms Frank also works as a local councillor and was helping with emergency procedures before she lost contact with her family.

The two last texted family at 10.30pm last night, and their parents who are in Britain are desperate for news.

Her aunt Ms Bolton, who lives in Suffolk, told the Evening Standard she has been up all night waiting for news from her two nieces and brother-in-law.

She said that her and her sister, Claire, were  “going out of their minds” with worry.

“The three of them were all in the house together and they had boarded up the property,” Ms Bolton said.

“Since then we have not heard anything. 

Afiyah was due to return home next week - Credit: Facebook
Afiyah was due to return home next week Credit: Facebook

"[Claire] is going out of her mind. Having said that, she is resilient. She went through Hurricane Luis [in 1995] and after that we lost contact with Barbuda for a week – but that was before mobile phones. Now we are so used to having instant contact.”

She has set up a GoFundMe page to help with efforts to find the sisters, which has so far raised over £3,000.

She said: “Through the appeal we have been in touch with a boat that is attempting to reach Antigua and Barbuda this morning and they have offered to take a satellite phone with them if we can get it to them.

“Trying to find where we can get hold of one nearby is hard – I think our next step is to see if we can get one in Miami and have it shipped over.”

Ms Bolton said: “Afiya works the season at the Barbuda Belle resort, then was planning on coming here to have her baby and go back and work the season again next year. I doubt Barbuda Belle is even there anymore.”

Barbuda's prime minister Gaston Browne confirmed the island was left "almost uninhabitable" by the hurricane.

"It is a total devastation - Barbuda now is literally a rubble," he told local TV and radio station ABS.

His government estimated destruction on Barbuda was "upwards of 90 per cent".

A two-year-old child was confirmed dead on the island overnight as a family tried to escape.. 

Mrs Frank met her husband in Leicester, and they have lived on the Caribbean island for 30 years.

Their two daughters were born in the UK and moved to Barbuda when they were young, while the couple's son was born on the island but now works in England.

The family lived through Hurricane Luis, which struck the area in 1995, but Mrs Frank said this storm had surpassed it.

She said: "People were talking about being sucked out of their houses because of the low pressure and twisters.

"I think this hurricane surpassed all of them, and I think the trauma of being through something like that can affect you for several weeks after, so I really just want to speak to them.

"Everyone is on Whatsapp and Twitter and Facebook all the time now. A silence of hours is almost unbearable for some people because we are used to that kind of instant communication so it's just unacceptable to me that satellite phones weren't available and taken over there so they can report back."