Authorities have reported 2,500 people missing in the Bahamas in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.
Carl Smith, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) spokesman, said at a news conference that the death toll is expected to “significantly rise”. However, the list, based on missing person’s reports, had not been checked against government records of people evacuated or staying in shelters,
“The database’s processing is underway,’’ Smith said, adding that the number of missing was expected to decrease.
Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Minnis warned that while the official death toll stood at 50, “the number of deaths is expected to significantly increase’’.
“We are ramping up efforts to collect those who died in the storm,’’ Minnis added in a televised address, calling Dorian a “historic tragedy”.
The Prime Minister said that more than 5,500 people had been evacuated to the island of New Providence to date, adding that “commercial carriers will be allowed to resume flights to Abaco starting today on a limited basis’’.
The storm, which made its first landfall on the Caribbean archipelago on Sept. 1, levelled entire neighbourhoods, with Grand Bahama and Abaco Islands worst hit.
“Much of Abaco, as we knew it, is decimated and no longer exists. Floodwaters in the streets made them appear like the ocean. Concrete structures were turned to dust as if a massive bomb had exploded with atomic force,’’ Minnis said.
“East Grand Bahama has been laid to waste. Freeport, West End and much of Grand Bahama experienced horrible destruction; no living Bahamian has seen anything like this in their lifetime, ’’Minnis added.
The hurricane was a Category 5 storm – the strongest – when it made landfall on the Abaco Islands. It then moved towards the U.S., making landfall a second time as a Category 1 storm in North Carolina before hitting Canada.