Richard Branson survives hurricane in island wine cellar

Billionaire Richard Branson and his staff have survived a battering by hurricane Irma by taking shelter in a concrete wine cellar on his private island in the Caribbean.

The hurricane‚ so intense that it registered on equipment used to measure earthquakes‚ tore across the British Virgin Islands late on Wednesday.

Branson’s island‚ Necker‚ was not spared its fury. His son‚ Sam Branson‚ posted an update on Instagram saying: “Glad to say that all humans on Necker are ok although a lot of buildings destroyed. 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.”

Branson spent millions of pounds transforming the uninhabitable island into a private retreat‚ which has hosted the likes of Barack and Michelle Obama.

“On Necker Island we have constructed really strong buildings (with hurricane blinds) that should be able to handle extreme weather pretty well‚ though with a Category 5 hurricane almost nothing can withstand it‚” said Branson in a blog as staff prepared for the hurricane.

Several guests left the island for safety reasons but Branson elected to stay.

“I will be on Necker alongside our team‚ as I have been on the three times we have had hurricanes over the past 30 years‚” the founder of the Virgin Group wrote.

Just hours before it hit‚ he posted an update: “We are expecting to get the full force of the hurricane in around five hours’ time‚ when we will retreat to a concrete wine cellar under the Great House. Knowing our wonderful team as I do‚ I suspect there will be little wine left in the cellar when we all emerge.”

Howling wind and rain lashed the island before the arrival of the storm.

“The strength of this hurricane is unheard of. I’ve just been reading reports from the BBC that the winds will sustain 185mph (297km/h) with gusts over 200mph (321km/h)‚” he wrote.


“The atmosphere is eerie but beautiful. Everyone is willing the eye of the storm to veer away from the BVI in these last few hours. As I wrote yesterday‚ our main concern is safety‚ for everyone here and for all the people in the BVI and in the path of the hurricane.

“All of us slept together in two rooms. I haven't had a sleepover quite like it since I was a kid. Strangely‚ it's a privilege to experience what is turning into possibly the strongest storm ever with such a great group of young people.”


The hurricane has wreaked havoc on several islands‚ knocking out electricity‚ uprooting trees and flattening homes. Initial reports recorded as many as six deaths.

The hurricane is expected to reach Florida in the US over the weekend.

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