San Juan, Sep 6 (IANS) The death toll in the Bahamas from hurricane Dorian has increased to 30, according to the Prime Minister of the archipelago in the Atlantic.
In an interview with US media on Thursday, Hubert Minnis confirmed the toll and reiterated that it was likely to rise, Efe news reported.
Dorian it hit the Bahamas on September 1 with winds of up to 298km/h — equalling the highest ever recorded at landfall. It battered the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama, in the north of the archipelago, for two days.
Munnis said he did not know when evacuation flights would start for people who are not elderly or sick – the first to be rescued – but he hoped it would be in five days and they would be transferred free of cost to Nassau.
Earlier, Health Minister Duane Sands had announced that 23 people had died because of Dorian, but had emphasized that the death toll would rise “much higher”.
He said only a few people were qualified to officially pronounce people dead, and until deaths were officially confirmed they cannot be added to the list of victims.
If the procedure for declaring a person dead was not scrupulously followed it could have legal and insurance consequences, he added.
Sands said that specialized personnel would be sent to both islands to embalm the dead at the scene, and refrigerated containers would be provided to preserve the remains, but that these containers were beginning to run out.
The priority was to rescue people and provide urgent assistance to the elderly and the sick, who were being transferred to islands in the archipelago that were not devastated by the storm.
Sands said the country had never experienced a catastrophe of this kind.
Aid was arriving from various governments, including those of the US, the UK and Canada, as well as from neighbouring countries and the tourism sector.
Melanie Roach, with the National Emergency Management Agency, said on Thursday that about 100 people had been rescued on the Abacos and that the authorities were working to clear the roads on Grand Bahama, which were covered with debris.
Problems persist in getting aid to the entire area because of the closure of sea ports on the islands, as well as the destruction of airports.
In the wake of Hurricane Dorian, the US Coast Guard rescued 201 people in the Bahamas.
After devastating the Bahamas, Dorian was now expected to bring a “life-threatening storm surge” up the US east coast.
Residents from Florida all the way up to Virginia were warned to listen to emergency advice as the hurricane slowly moved north.