NASSAU, The Bahamas – Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis has confirmed at least five deaths in the Abaco Islands of the Bahamas in what he described as a “historic tragedy”.
The dead include an eight-year-old boy who drowned as his family tried to relocate from their home in Abaco, as Hurricane Dorian passed over the island with heavy rains and Category 5 winds and even stronger gusts, destroying houses and leaving many homeless.
But even as residents and the government try to come to grips with the losses and rescue efforts begin, another Bahamian island – Grand Bahama – continues to be pounded by the hurricane which weakened slightly to a Category 3 system but came to a standstill as it continued to wreak havoc.
Confirming the loss of life and property at a press conference, Minnis said: “We are in the midst of a historic tragedy in parts of our northern Bahamas. The images and videos we are seeing are heartbreaking. Many homes, businesses and other buildings have been completely or partially destroyed.” He added that downtown Grand Bahama was under three feet of water, including the ground floor of its hospital and the prime minister’s office.
Dorian made landfall as a Category 5 hurricane on Grand Bahama Island Sunday night – after devastating the Abaco Islands earlier in the day – and battered the island, slowing to a crawl before becoming stationary by late evening.
“A turn toward the north is forecast by Wednesday evening, followed by a turn to the north-northeast Thursday morning. On this track, the core of extremely dangerous Hurricane Dorian will gradually move north of Grand Bahama Island through this evening,” the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) in Miami said. “The hurricane will then move dangerously close to the Florida east coast through Wednesday evening, very near the Georgia and South Carolina coasts Wednesday night and Thursday, and near or over the North Carolina coast late Thursday.”
Dorian is expected to remain a powerful hurricane during the next couple of days.
United States Coast Guard crews have rescued several injured residents in Abaco.
Management Agency (CDEMA) said it hopes the all-clear will be given by tomorrow so it can send in a team to assess the situation. The hope had been that the all-clear would have been given by today, but the slow movement of the storm had eliminated that possibility.