SAN JUAN – Bahamas Health Minister Duane Sands told local media on Sunday that the official death toll in the archipelago from Hurricane Dorian has been raised to 44, reiterating that this figure will increase “significantly” in the coming days and that the bodies of some people will never be recovered since they were swept out to sea by the waves and storm surge
Six days after the passage of the Category 5 storm over the northern Bahamas, thousands of people remain without electricity or have lost everything and hundreds of refugees continue arriving on New Providence, the most populous island in the archipelago and where the capital of Nassau is located.
A total of 36 people are officially reported to have been killed on Abaco Island, where some 17,000 people live, along with eight more on Grand Bahama Island, where some 51,000 people live.
Authorities expect the death toll to climb significantly because hundreds of people remain missing a week after the storm.
A total of 274 Bahamas defense forces personnel and police have been deployed to Abaco and 666 to Grand Bahama, along with US Coast Guard personnel and representatives from assorted non-governmental organizations.
The US Coast Guard has reported that it has rescued 308 people so far.
Many residents who are still without electricity, fuel, potable water, shelter or other basic necessities.
Even those who are being housed or sheltered in Nassau are not relieved from a pervading sense of anxiety as they await word of the fate of friends and loved ones, and contemplate the fact that they have lost all or nearly everything and must figure out how to start from zero again, in the wake of the storm.
The government of Prime Minister Hubert Minnis has emphasized that it is aware that people who have lost communications with the outside world feel abandoned, but officials said that rescue efforts are proceeding with help from international organizations and foreign governments.
The US Coast Guard reported on Saturday that all maritime ports on Abaco and Grand Bahama islands, the hardest hit in the storm, have been reopened and have received the green light for the arrival of large vessels – such as cruise and cargo ships – bringing aid and basic supplies.
It is feared that hundreds of people are buried beneath the ruins of their homes or have vanished completely, including relatives of well-known actor Sidney Poitier, 92.
In remarks to US media, the actor’s nephew, Jeffrey Poitier, 66, said that more than 23 family members are missing in the wake of Dorian.