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Hurricane Dorian kills at least 5 people after hovering over Bahamas for hours

Dorian has weakened slightly to a Category 3 storm after lashing the Bahamas with winds of 205km/h.

correction-bahamas-tropical-weather Winds from Hurricane Dorian whip through a neighbourhood in Freeport, Grand Bahama Source: Tim Aylen via AP

MONSTER STORM DORIAN has killed at least five people and spurred mass evacuations on the US east coast after hovering over the Bahamas for hours yesterday.

Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis termed the hurricane a “historic tragedy” for the archipelago.

“Thus far, the Royal Bahamas Police Force has confirmed that there are five deaths in Abaco,” Minnis told a news conference, referring to the islands where Dorian made landfall as a Category 5 storm on Sunday.

As Dorian ground to a standstill, pounding Grand Bahama further to the west of the island chain, the Bahamas tourism and aviation ministry announced the start of rescue operations “in parts where it is safe”.

Residents of Freeport in the Bahamas has seen winds tear off shutters and water beginning to enter their homes over the past day as a result of the storm. 

Initial Red Cross estimates were that 13,000 buildings may have been damaged or destroyed by Dorian, officials in Geneva said. Twenty one people have been injured by the storm so far. 

US forecasters said the storm would keep hammering the Bahamas overnight into today.

For many, the wait for help to arrive has been terrifying.

A text message seen by AFP from one woman who lives on Grand Bahama said: “We are under water; we are up in the ceiling. Can someone please assist us or send some help. Please. Me and my six grandchildren and my son, we are in the ceiling.”

Dorian has weakened slightly to a Category 3 storm after lashing the Bahamas with winds of 205km/h, according to US forecasters. 

The Miami-based National Hurricane Center said the storm remained over Grand Bahama Island in its latest bulletin at 5am, and warned residents to stay in shelters.

“Although gradual weakening is forecast, Dorian is expected to remain a powerful hurricane during the next couple of days,” the NHC said earlier this morning. 

tropical-weather Hurricane Dorian, left, churning over Bahamas Source: NOAA via AP

‘Get out NOW’

Video posted on the website of the Bahamian newspaper Tribune 242 showed water up to the roofs of wooden houses in what appeared to be a coastal town.

Capsized boats floated in muddy brown water dotted with wooden boards, tree branches and other debris.

The NHC has warned of a 12- to 18-foot storm surge above tide levels in parts of Grand Bahama, accompanied by large and destructive waves, saying that people on the island should “remain in shelter”.

Water levels in the Abacos, swamped by a similar surge on Sunday, were expected to slowly subside.

“The hurricane will then move dangerously close to the Florida east coast late Tuesday through Wednesday evening and then move dangerously close to the Georgia and South Carolina coasts on Wednesday night and Thursday,” the NHC said.

hurricane-dorian People weating the high surf from a boardwalk overlooking the Atlantic Ocean as winds from Hurricane Dorian blow palm trees Source: Gerald Herbert via AP

All three eastern US states have ordered coastal residents to evacuate, affecting close to a million people.

Neighboring North Carolina has also declared a state of emergency, as has Virginia further north.

The Florida senator and former governor Rick Scott wrote on Twitter that “a slight wobble West” would bring the storm ”on shore with devastating consequences.”

If you’re in an evacuation zone, get out NOW. We can rebuild your home. We can’t rebuild your life.

Includes reporting by © AFP 2019

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