Hurricane Dorian: Death Toll Rises to 43, Expected to Climb “Significantly”
By Staff, Agencies
The death toll from Hurricane Dorian's devastating rampage across the Bahamas rose to 43 on Friday, as authorities warn the number is expected to rise "significantly" as rescuers continue to comb through debris.
Thousands of people were left homeless on the islands of Grand Bahama and Abaco following the landfall of the Category 5 storm and many have grown frustrated with the speed of relief and evacuation efforts.
Health Minister Duane Sands confirmed the new death toll of 43, up from 30, according to US network CNN and Bahamas newspaper The Tribune.
"Forty-three is the official count, many missing and this number is expected to grow significantly," Erica Wells Cox, a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Hubert Minnis, told NBC News.
Of the eventual death toll, Sands had declared previously that "the number will be staggering."
"Literally hundreds, up to thousands, of people are still missing," Joy Jibrilu, the director general of the Bahamian tourism and aviation ministry, told CNN.
According to UN relief officials, more than 70,000 people – virtually the entire population of Grand Bahama and Abaco – are in need of assistance after the storm reduced homes to matchsticks and destroyed people's livelihoods.
Along with two government-chartered ferries, the US Coast Guard and private organizations have been evacuating residents of Abaco and other islands to Nassau, which was spared the wrath of the hurricane.
The multinational relief effort, which also includes Britain's Royal Navy and several non-governmental organizations, has been hampered by flood damage to airport runways, destroyed piers and docks and downed communications.