PM: More deaths expected to be recorded as search and rescue efforts cont.
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The death toll as a result of Hurricane Dorian, a destructive Category 5 storm that ravaged the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama, has risen to seven, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis confirmed earlier today.
The destructive storm that pounded the impacted islands between midday Sunday afternoon and tonight had moved away from The Bahamas as of 11 p.m., though a tropical storm warning was still in effect.
Addressing the nation at the National Emergency Management Agency’s (NEMA) headquarters around 8:20 p.m., Minnis said, “Five deaths are confirmed. There may be additional deaths that we can expect. Of the 25 individuals who were transported to New Providence, two have already succumbed. That would take the number of deaths to seven and again, I want to assure and inform the Bahamian population that we can expect more deaths to be recorded. This is just preliminary information.”
The prime minister was unable to confirm the ages or sex of the victims.
He said that information will be provided.
Asked about unconfirmed reports of deaths on Grand Bahama, the prime minister said he will continue to base his pronouncements on facts.
“There are many things I’ve heard, but I cannot state just on hearsay; I must give you facts,” Minnis said.
Calling for compassion to be demonstrated to the families, which have lost relatives, Minnis discouraged sharing photos or video recordings of those who lost their lives in the storm.
“Please, I ask you to avoid sending or sharing images or those who perished in the storm,” the prime minister urged, while noting that search and rescue efforts were ongoing on both islands.
“Let us act with compassion. Do not make the grief process worse for families by spreading pictures.”
The full scope of the disaster remains unclear.
At its peaks, Dorian lashed the Abacos with 185 mile-per-hour winds.
Families were desperate yesterday to hear from loved ones in both islands.
In some cases, contact had been lost with relatives since Friday afternoon.
While relatives remained hopeful of making contact, anxiety levels remained high, with many saying they did not know whether their families were safe or what conditions they were facing.
Harrowing photos emerging from impacted islands showing leveled communities — a complete contrast to the pristine, lush landscape — compounded those fears.
Numerous communities have been severely flooded.
Acknowledging that many have had to brave the ferocious storm in life-threatening and terrifying conditions, Minnis said it is the government’s “urgent task” is to provide food, water, shelter, safety and security to those impacted, vulnerable and displaced.
A 600-foot ship of the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom, stocked with food and supplies, was expected to arrive in the Abacos tonight.
Additional food, water and health supplies is expected to be supplied by NEMA today.
The United States Coast Guard was assisting the Royal Bahamas Police Force and Royal Bahamas Defence Force with search and rescue efforts and transporting the injuries and critically ill off the island.
Minnis called the aftermath of Dorian one of the “greatest national crisis in our country’s history”. He said every resource will be brought to bear to bring relief to the thousands impacted.
“No effort or resources will be held back,” the prime minister said. “We have all seen the magnitude of the devastation and we all know it is going to require a massive, coordinate effort to rebuild our communities and we need to rely on the resources of the government and our local and international partners, so we are thankful to all of the charitable organizations and businesses who rallied donation from all over the globe.”
The prime minister, the leader of the opposition, executives from the National Emergency Management Agency and the chargé d’affaires of the United States Embassy in Nassau, among other government officials, performed a flyover of Abaco in a U.S. Coast Guard aircraft this afternoon.
The search and rescue efforts on both islands is ongoing.
Communities, particularly in Marsh Harbour, Abaco, were submerged in murky water.
The prime minister noted that safety and security remain a top concern on both islands, and being cognizant of that, additional personnel from the RBPF and RBDF will be dispatched to the islands.
Minnis advised that following initial assessments, more details assessments will be made by a variety of teams from numerous agencies.