Hurricane Dorian – Bahamas say final death toll will be ‘staggering’ as thousands are still missing after 225mph megastorm – The Sun
HURRICANE Dorian's final death toll will be "staggering" officials in the Bahamas fear with thousands still listed as missing.
The 225mph monster storm effectively parked itself the archipelago's Abaco Islands earlier this week bringing near-total devastation.
The death toll officially sits at 30 but officials expected that to rise dramatically over the coming days.
Last night Health Minister Duane Sands warned of a "staggering" final number.
"The public needs to prepare for unimaginable information about the death toll and the human suffering," he told local radio.
On social media thousands are still listed as missing as British and American rescue teams hunt through the rubble for survivors.
People are also using websites such as DorianPeopleSearch.com, which currently lists the names of more than 5,500 missing people.
Speaking to the Daily Beast, the site's founder Vanessa Pritchard-Ansell said: “When you see that somebody has been found and their family knows where they are, you feel a moment of elation.”
“But you also know that there are so many thousands of others who have not been accounted for.”
In grim development officials in the Bahamas have deployed a team of morticians loaded with body bags to the Abaco Islands, the BBC reports.
Chilling pictures taken there over the past 36 hours show the catastrophic damage caused to thousands of homes.
The wooden-built properties were completely shredded as the mega-storm bulldozed towns and villages, ripping up trees and felling power lines.
The storm's punishing winds and shocking floodwaters destroyed or severely damaged homes, crippled hospitals and trapped people in attics.
Terrifying time-lapse footage has now emerged which shows the killer storm barrelling across the Atlantic and over the Bahamas before heading towards the US coast.
Mark Lowcock, the United Nations' under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, estimates about 70,000 people in the northern Bahamas now need vital help.
However, with no functioning water systems in accessible areas, workers had not been able to establish a permanent rescue site on the Abacos.
How hurricanes are measured
The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale is based on a hurricane's sustained wind speed.
- A Category 1 storm has sustained winds of 74-95 mph
- A Category 2 storm has sustained winds of 96-110 mph
- A Category 3 storm has sustained winds of 111-129 mph
- A Category 4 storm has sustained winds of 130-156mph
- A Category 5 storm has sustained winds of 156mph+
Lia Head-Rigby, who helps run a local hurricane relief group and flew over the Bahamas' hard-hit Abaco Islands, said: "It's total devastation. It's decimated. Apocalyptic.
"It's not rebuilding something that was there – we have to start again."
She said her representative on Abaco told her there were "a lot more dead," though she had no numbers as bodies are being gathered.
The Bahamas' prime minister also expected more deaths and predicted that rebuilding would require "a massive, coordinated effort".
Hubert Minnis said: "We are in the midst of one of the greatest national crises in our country's history. No effort or resources will be held back."
BRITS LENDING HAND
Volunteers from British disaster response charity Team Rubicon UK are in the Bahamas to help some of the 76,000 people worst affected by Dorian.
They will use their specialist military backgrounds to get aid to the most cut-off communities.
Paul Taylor, Team Rubicon UK Operations Response Manager and an Afghanistan veteran, said: “Where Team Rubicon UK can help, we will – but we need support from the public to do so, so we’d appreciate if people could spare a few pounds.”
Earlier five Coast Guard helicopters ran near-hourly flights to the stricken Abaco, flying more than 20 injured people to the capital's main hospital.
The British Royal navy is also rushing in aid, while the UK Government sent in a team of humanitarian experts to offer their help.
A few private aid groups also tried to reach the battered islands in the northern Bahamas.
Tammy Mitchell of the Bahamas' National Emergency Management Agency told ZNS Bahamas radio station: "We don't want people thinking we've forgotten them. … We know what your conditions are."
But with airports flooded and roads impassable, desperate rescue efforts are being severely hampered.
Locals rescued used jet skis and bulldozers as they were forced to improvise to reach those trapped.
The news is sure to send shivers down the spines of those hunkering down in the US.
Dorian sideswiped the Carolinas with shrieking winds, tornadoes and sideways rain on Thursday as it closed in for a possible direct hit on the dangerously exposed Outer Banks.
At least four deaths in the Southeast were blamed on the storm.
Twisters spun off by Dorian peeled away roofs and flipped trailers, and more than 250,000 homes and businesses were left without power as the hurricane pushed north along the coastline, its winds weakening to 105mph by evening.
Trees and power lines littered flooded streets in Charleston's historic downtown. Gusts topped 80mph in some areas.
The damage from the same storm that mauled the Bahamas was mercifully light in many parts of South Carolina and Georgia as well, and by mid-afternoon many of the 1.5 million people who had been told to evacuate in three states were allowed to return.
Still, forecasters warned that Dorian could run straight over North Carolina's Outer Banks the thin line of islands that stick out from the US coast.
To the north, Virginia was also in harm's way, and a round of evacuations was ordered there.
"We have a long night ahead of us. Everyone needs to stay in a safe place and off the roads until the storm passes," North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said.
The Category 2 vortex began creeping up the shore 95 miles off Cape Canaveral on Tuesday.
In Florida, Walt Disney World closed its four theme parks by mid-afternoon on Tuesday amid fears for tourist safety.
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