NASSAU, The Bahamas: At least five deaths have been reported in the Bahamas from Hurricane Dorian, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said at a news conference held at the National Emergency Management Agency headquarters on Monday.
“We are in the midst of a historic tragedy in parts of our northern Bahamas. Our mission and focus now is search, rescue and recovery,” the premier said.
“As a physician I have been trained to withstand anything, but never anything like this,” he admitted.
PM said the US Coast Guard was on the ground in Abaco and had rescued a number of injured people, those critically injured people were taken to hospitals on New Providence.
Bahamian officials said they received “tremendous” number of calls from people trapped in inundated homes.
One radio station said it received over 2,000 distress messages, including reports of a five-month-old infant stranded on a roof and a woman with six grandchildren who cut a hole in a roof to escape rising floodwaters.
Two designated storm shelters have also flooded due to storm surge, according to initial reports.
Bahamian Member of Parliament Iram Lewis told media his greatest fear was that waters would keep rising overnight and that stranded people would lose contact with officials as cellphone batteries died.
“It is scary. We’re definitely in dire straits.”
He said Grand Bahama’s airport was six feet underwater and that people were moving shelters as floodwaters kept surging.
A witness staying in the hotel at the Abaco Beach Resort told media that winds tore off the shutters and part of the roof and the site was surrounded by a lake of water.
As many as 13,000 homes in the Bahamas have been destroyed or severely damaged, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said.
Houses in a Freeport neighbourhood were engulfed by six feet of water.
“It looks like they are boats on top of the water,” said the sixty one year old resident Rosa Knowles-Bain, who fled to an emergency shelter two days ago.
The ferocious storm centre was about 30 miles north-east of Freeport on Grand Bahama Island.
The Bahamas is a coral-based archipelago consisting of more than 700 islands in the Atlantic Ocean.