Richard Branson has revealed the extent of damage to his private island in the Caribbean as he called for urgent government help for those in the Caribbean in desperate need after Hurricane Irma.
The Virgin Group founder and billionaire took to Instagram to post images and video footage of destroyed buildings and vegetation on Necker Island, which he has owned since the late 1970s.
“Much of the buildings and vegetation on Necker has been destroyed or badly damaged,” the 67-year-old Brit captioned a video clip. “But British Virgin Islands Hurricane #Irma story is not about Necker — it is about the tens of thousands of people who have lost their homes and their livelihoods.”
Branson added that Virgin Unite — a charitable arm of the Virgin Group – was helping to coordinate aid for families and communities affected by the hurricane, which killed at least 24 people throughout the Caribbean islands.
“We are using our foundation @virginunite to coordinate raising money for longer-term reconstruction projects,” he continued in another post. “We will support the mid to long term efforts on the ground and help provide support as those affected recover from the disaster.”
The once idyllic island has attracted many celebrities over the years, with actress Kate Winslet recently recalling how she met her husband, Ned Rocknroll, while vacationing at the exclusive hotspot.
“I met my husband in a house fire,” she told ET about Rocknroll, who is Branson’s nephew and was also vacationing at the resort at the time. “He was the only dude to have a head torch and a pair of shoes, everyone else left everything behind. I took a bra and passports and my children.”
“So I married him!” she continued. “I was like, ‘I’ll go for the guy with a head torch!'”
Other stars who have frequented the island include One Direction heartthrob Harry Styles, former U.S. president Barack Obama, songstress Mariah Carey, musician Sir Mick Jagger and models Kate Moss and Rachel Hunter.
Actors Robert De Niro, Eddie Murphy, Demi Moore, David Hasselhoff, Harrison Ford and Mel Gibson have also stayed on the island, along with royals Prince Harry, Kate Middleton and the late Princess Diana.