Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 18 September 2019

Bahamas officials say thousands missing after storm Dorian

Fifty people confirmed dead and 15,000 believed to be in urgent need of shelter or food

A child's bicycle is seen in a destroyed neighbourhood in the wake of Hurricane Dorian in Marsh Harbour, Great Abaco, Bahamas on Saturday. Reuters
A child's bicycle is seen in a destroyed neighbourhood in the wake of Hurricane Dorian in Marsh Harbour, Great Abaco, Bahamas on Saturday. Reuters

About 2,500 people are feared missing in the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian, which may include people who fled to shelters around the Caribbean island chain, authorities said on Wednesday.

More than a week after the Category 5 hurricane ravaged Great Abaco Island, Freeport and other parts of the tourism-dependent country, the number of missing was another sign that the death toll may rise significantly over the 50 reported.

"This list has not yet been checked against government records of who are staying in shelters or who have been evacuated," National Emergency Management Agency spokesman Carl Smith said.

"The database processing is under way."

Thousands of people are in shelters on the islands. People all over Nassau are still searching for friends and family they have not seen since the storm.

"My friends are missing," said Clara Bain, 38, a tour guide. "A few of my cousins are missing over there, five in total. They lived in Marsh Harbour."

Marsh Harbour is the Abaco town where officials estimate that 90 per cent of homes and buildings were damaged or destroyed by the storm.

"Everyone on the islands are missing someone, it's really devastating," Ms Bain said.

Dorian slammed into the Bahamas over a week ago as one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes on record, packing top sustained winds of 298kph.

Mr Smith said more than 5,000 people had moved to the island of New Providence, of which Nassau is the capital.

But he said there had been a "significant reduction" in the number of people now asking to be relocated.

Commercial flights to Abaco, one of the hardest-hit areas, were due to resume on Wednesday on a limited basis, officials said.

About 15,000 people are still in need of shelter or food, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency said.

Officials have already put up large tents in Nassau to house people made homeless by the storm and plan to put up tent cities on Abaco capable of sheltering up to 4,000 people.

Private forecasters estimated that Dorian destroyed or damaged about $3 billion (Dh11.01 billion) of insured property in the Caribbean.

Updated: September 12, 2019 04:20 AM

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