Miami, Hurricane Dorian has killed at least five people in the Bahamas after making a “catastrophic” landfall in the island, the Prime Minister of the Atlantic archipelago has said.
“There are questions about fatalities… Thus far, the Royal Bahamas Police Force has confirmed that there are five deaths in Abaco,” Prime Minister Hubert Minnis told a news conference at the headquarters of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) on Monday.
“Teams will go to Abaco as soon as possible for a full and proper assessment and identification.”
Dorian made landfall Sunday in Elbow Cay, Abacos, as a Category 5 storm, making it the second most powerful Atlantic hurricane on record, Efe news reported.
“The initial reports from Abaco is that the devastation is unprecedented and extensive,” Minnis said. “The images and videos we are seeing are heartbreaking.
“There is an extraordinary amount of flooding and damage to infrastructure,” he said, confirming that US Coast Guard personnel were already in Abaco working to rescue people.
Dorian, now a Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 230 kmh, on Monday continued to pound the Grand Bahama Island, much of which was underwater amid a storm surge of 23 feet above normal tide levels.
Authorities in Grand Bahama said earlier on Monday that efforts by first responders to rescue people trapped in the floods would have to wait until conditions improved.
The US National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said that Grand Bahama Island will continue to suffer the effects of the hurricane into Tuesday morning.
At 9 p.m. on Monday, Dorian was located 40 km northeast of Freeport, Grand Bahama, and 170 km east of West Palm Beach, Florida, the NHC said.
Dorian is expected to resume moving to the west-northwest during the night before moving “dangerously close to the Florida east coast,” the NHC said.
The storm will skirt the Florida coast “through Wednesday evening and then move dangerously close to the Georgia and South Carolina coasts on Wednesday night and Thursday”, according to the NHC forecast.
In the US, the NHC has issued a storm surge warning from Lantana, Florida, to Altamaha Sound, Georgia, while a storm surge watch is in effect from north of Deerfield Beach, Florida, to south of Lantana, and from Altamaha Sound to the South Santee River in South Carolina.