Bahamas devastation: Hurricane Dorian’s 'staggering' toll of death

Health minister Duane Sands warned that thousands of victims were missing last night. Police faced outbreaks of violence as looters threatened to “shoot people” for food and water. At least 70,000 of the 400,000 inhabitants need “lifesaving assistance” after their homes were destroyed. How can Witnesses said there was a “smell of death” from corpses of victims floating in the water. Fears were also rising about the spread of disease with bodies piled in the streets.

The official death toll remained at 43 yesterday but officials say the casualty list would mount.

Hundreds of survivors have fled after the hurricane hit last Sunday, with thousands waiting to leave at ports in Great Abaco and the Grand Bahamas, two of the worst-hit islands.

Survivors complained of “chaotic” and slow evacuations, with Gee Rolle, 44, a construction worker, saying “only animals can live here” as he waited for a boat with his wife in Great Abaco.

Another survivor, Alicia Cooke, fought back tears as she said: “Everything is gone, people are starting to panic. Pillaging, looting, trying to shoot people for food and water. It’s just no way everyone’s going to get out.”

The medical chief of staff at Princess Margaret Hospital in the capital of the Bahamas, Nassau said that two refrigerated, 40ft trucks would be needed to transport the “staggering” number of bodies likely to be found. Dr Caroline Burnett-Garraway said: “We’ve ordered lots of body bags.”.

The British Government has pledged £1.5million in aid to the islands, with hundreds of British nationals living in some of the worst hit areas.

A Royal Navy Wildcat helicopter operating from Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Mounts Bay rescued a woman and three children, and an unnamed British survivor who had been trapped under rubble for days.

Rescuers evacuated the victims to the Mounts Bay which has been stationed in the Caribbean since June for emergency medical treatment. They were then airlifted to the capital.

The Royal Navy last night deployed 18 extra medics to deliver humanitarian assistance.

When asked about the death toll rising, Mr Sands said: “Let me say that I believe the number will be staggering.”

The tropical cyclone, with 185mph winds, was the strongest to ever hit the Bahamas.

It stayed over the affected area for two days with some parts getting 35 inches of rain.

Neighbourhoods were flattened while others were swallowed up as the waters surged.

The US National Hurricane Center said tropical storm conditions were expected in the south-east of Massachusetts and Maine from Dorian, which was south of Maine yesterday morning and moving north-east.


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