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Dublin: 16 °C Thursday 13 August, 2020

Hurricane Dorian claims the lives of at least seven people in the Bahamas

The storm caused mass destruction and continues to move up the US coastline.

Winds from Hurricane Dorian whip through a neighbourhood in Freeport, Grand Bahama.
Winds from Hurricane Dorian whip through a neighbourhood in Freeport, Grand Bahama.
Image: Tim Aylen

HURRICANE DORIAN HAS claimed the lives of at least seven people after devastating parts of the Bahamas on route to the United States. 

Bahamas prime minister, Hubert Minnis warned that the death toll is set to rise in the coming days as the impact of the storm is fully understood. 

Minnis said it was “one of the greatest national crises in our country’s history,” adding “we can expect more deaths to be recorded – this is just preliminary information”. 

Locals, whose homes were destroyed during the storm, gave accounts to the media.

Water “came over the roof. I would imagine 21ft at least. We were doing all right until the water kept coming up and all the appliances were going around the house like a washing machine,” crab fisherman Howard Armstrong told CNN.

“My poor little wife got hypothermia and she was standing on top of the kitchen cabinets until they disintegrated… I kept with her and she just drowned on me,” said Armstrong, who eventually made it to his boat.

Aerial footage of Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas showed scenes of catastrophic damage, with hundreds of homes missing roofs, overturned cars, widespread flooding and debris strewn all over.

“Parts of Abaco are decimated. There’s severe flooding, there’s severe damage to homes, businesses, other buildings and infrastructure,” said Minnis.

Bahamas residents “endured hours and days of horror, fearing for their lives and the lives of their loved ones,” he said.

The runways at Grand Bahama International Airport in Freeport, the island’s largest city, were under water, complicating rescue and recovery efforts.

The online Bahamas Press published a video of flooding in the Rand Memorial Hospital in Freeport and said patients had been forced to evacuate the facility.

The US Coast Guard sent MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters to Andros Island in the southern Bahamas to help with search and rescue operations as residents trapped in their homes by floodwaters issued distress calls.

The Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said the core of the storm “is moving nearly parallel to, but offshore of, the east coast of central Florida,” while President Donald Trump warned people against complacency.

“The U.S. may be getting a little bit lucky with respect to Hurricane Dorian, but please don’t let down your guard. As it heads up the coast, lots of very bad and unpredictable things can happen!” he tweeted.

Dorian, which has dumped as much as 30 inches of rain on the Bahamas, was downgraded Tuesday morning to a Category 2 hurricane on the five-level wind scale.

“On the other hand, the Bahamas have been devastated,” he wrote.

“I am getting the North Carolina Emergency Declaration completed and signed tonight. Hope you won’t need it!” he tweeted later.

It is “expected to remain a powerful hurricane during the next few days,” the NHC said.

A state of emergency has been declared up and down the east coast for millions of US residents potentially in the path of the storm.

The Pentagon said 5,000 members of the National Guard and 2,700 active-duty troops were ready to help out if needed.

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