SAN JUAN – The death toll from Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas has risen to 50, with 42 of the fatalities occurring in the Abaco Islands and eight in Grand Bahama, Royal Bahamas Police Force commissioner Anthony Ferguson said Tuesday.
The police commissioner said thousands of people were still listed as missing and the death toll could rise considerably.
Bahamian media outlets reported that the death toll from the powerful hurricane could reach 3,000 and that mass burials were taking place.
Ferguson said that New Providence, the most populous island in the archipelago and where the capital of Nassau is located, the Abacos and Grand Bahama lacked the facilities to store large numbers of bodies.
Victims’ remains have been placed in body bags and are being kept in refrigerated containers as a “temporary measure,” Ferguson said.
“As there are many more persons presumed missing, since they have not been seen or heard from since the passage of Hurricane Dorian, we are appealing to family members to file missing person’s reports with the police,” the police commissioner said.
“We offer sincere condolences to those families who had loved ones die during the hurricane,” Ferguson said.
Bahamians should “know that every effort is being made by Royal Bahamas Police Force along with our local and international law enforcement partners to bring relief and closure for everyone,” the police commissioner said.
Hundreds of storm refugees continue arriving on New Providence, the most populous island in the archipelago.
Ferguson confirmed that about 4,500 people had been evacuated from the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama to Nassau since Dorian left the islands last week, with the figure expected to rise to 5,000 “or more” by the end of the day on Tuesday.
Hundreds of people disappeared and some 70,000 were left homeless by the storm, the UN said.
Residents of the islands devastated by Dorian said on social media that they counted hundreds of bodies following the hurricane.
“May God bless the Commonwealth of The Bahamas,” Ferguson said.
On Monday, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said he planned to declare a National Day of Mourning for those lost in the storm.
Hurricane Dorian made landfall on Sept. 1 on Elbow Cay and later on Great Abaco as a Category 5 storm, the most powerful hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale.
Many residents are still without electricity, fuel, drinking water, shelter and other basic necessities.