As Hurricane Dorian batters the east coast of the United States, taking aim at the Carolinas, the death toll in the Bahamas is continuing to rise. After lingering over the islands for 48 hours and marking its place as the strongest storm to ever hit the islands with sustained winds of 185 mph and gusts reaching 220 mph, the death toll has now risen from seven to 20, and expected to rise higher.
On Wednesday, as Dorian finally pulled away from the Bahamas and encroached on the United States, Bahamas Health Minister Duane Sands confirmed to NBC News that 20 deaths had been confirmed and that the number was expected to rise.
"We've had an absolute horrendous tragedy, numbers of lives lost, and we have not completed the door-to-door," Sand said.
BahamasLocal.com reports that of those deaths, 17 occurred on Abaco, where Dorian first made landfall, and three more occurred on Grand Bahama. Both areas were especially hard hit and are now inundated with flood water.
Although the identities of most of the victims have not yet been confirmed, it has been reported that a 7-year-old boy and a former police officer are among the dead.
At a press conference Wednesday night, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis again confirmed the death toll, adding that "we expect that this number will increase." He went on to say that Dorian had left "generational devastation across Abaco and Grand Bahama," and that "so many families have been deeply impacted."
"I ask you to pray for the families and loved ones of the deceased," he said.
At a Tuesday press conference, Minnis had called the storm "one of the greatest national crises in our country's history."0comments
As the worst of the storm passes, the true devastation left in its wake is becoming more clear as rescue teams are now able to safely enter the Bahamas. It is estimated that at least 13,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed in the Bahamas, according to The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). Additionally, Grand Bahama International Airport in Freeport is said to be mostly submerged in floodwater.
According to Time, the U.S. Coast Guard, Britain's Royal Navy, and a number of relief organizations including the United Nations and the Red Cross have joined relief efforts to rush food and medicine to survivors and lift survivors to safety. President Donald Trump pledged the United States' full support and assistance, Minnis confirmed.