A new storm battered the hurricane-ravaged Bahamas early today, with officials warning it is headed for Florida and could turn into a tropical storm.
On Thursday, the Bahamian government said it believed 1,300 people are missing, a sharp decline from the 2,500 listed on the missing registry a day earlier.
A tropical disturbance struck the central Bahamas on Friday, packing winds of 30 mph and was expected to drop three to five inches of rain through Sunday.
There is an 80 percent chance that it will turn into a stronger tropical
There is an 80 percent it could turn into a tropical storm named Humberto in the next day or so as it crawls at 3 mph across the Bahamas and takes aim at Florida, the NHC said
Marsh Harbour in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian earlier this week – the official death toll has risen in the time since to 50 people
A woman walks on the beach as the new storm approaches Nassau on Thursday afternoon
The National Hurricane Center’s current outlook for the Bahamas, showing a tropical disturbance in the region
Bahamian government denies it is suppressing Dorian death toll
The Bahamian government has denied claims it is suppressing the Dorian death toll, after the latest official count fell well below what residents have reported.
Locals say the latest official figure does not match with the oppressive stench and sight of the dead.
But health minister, Duane Sands, told the
‘The priority is find those people for their loved ones who are missing them; to take care, provide comfort to those people who are hurt, who are suffering, that’s the priority. To put food in people’s bellies, water in their throat.’
Hundreds or even thousands of people were still missing, officials said, as rescue teams continued their grim retrievals.
Sands told the Herald: ‘We’ve heard the numbers, a 1,000, 200, 500, 600. We’ve heard all of the claims.
‘The language I have used and the language that the prime minister has used and all of the cabinet, and (the National Emergency Management Agency), has been a description of the number of confirmed deaths – these are people in the morgue.’
A tropical storm warning was in effect for Northwestern Bahamas, including hurricane-hit Abacos and Grand Bahama, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
The storm is expected to pick up speed as it moves northwest o n Friday and could hit Florida on Saturday, it said.
A tropical storm watch was issued for portions of the coast of east-central Florida late Thursday and South Florida could see tropical storm force winds as early as Friday evening, the NHC said.
Hurricane Dorian slammed into the Bahamas on September 1 as a Category 5 storm, one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes on record to hit land, packing top sustained winds of 185 mph.
The tropical cyclone was not expected to bring anywhere near that level of devastation.
Aid groups rushed shelter material to residents living in the shells of former homes.
‘We’re seeing plastic tarps go out all over the islands, and that’s extremely important because now you’ve got another tropical storm coming,’ said Ken Isaacs, vice president of programs for U.S. relief organization Samaritan’s Purse.
The prime minister of the Bahamas, Hubert Minnis, on Wednesday said the official death toll stood at 50 but was expected to rise.
Minnis said there were problems coordinating aid due to the level of devastation and he was trying to remove ‘bureaucratic roadblocks.’
Former prime minister Hubert Ingraham said he believed ‘hundreds’ were dead on Abaco ‘and significant numbers on Grand Bahama,’ the Nassau Guardian newspaper reported on Thursday.
Officials have erected large tents in Nassau to house those made homeless by Dorian and plan to erect tent cities on Abaco capable of sheltering up to 4,000 people.
A woman burns clothes damaged by the hurricane as she and tens of thousands of others begin the daunting task of cleaning up Dorian’s wreckage
An oil spill has added to Bahamian woes with the Norwegian Equinor facility on Grand Bahama badly damaged by the hurricane (pictured)
Tens of thousands on the islands face the daunting task of an estimated $7 billion worth of damage and bodies potentially buried under the rubble.
Residents say the water has turned ‘deadly’ after an oil storage facility on Grand Bahama was ravaged by the storm and they cannot drink or bathe in it.
The oil is ‘deadly, deadly,’ said Marco Roberts, 38, holding a mask and lamenting the poisoned state of his island.
‘The oil is actually leaking in the water, and now you can’t bathe in the water, or you can’t drink the water. The only water we can bathe in is what you all give us.’
At ground zero, several huge oil storage tanks are colored black by overflown oil, which has spread over a stretch of land near the coast.
It remains unknown if oil from the Norwegian-owned Equinor facility reached the ocean.
The spill occurred at Equinor’s South Riding Point terminal, which has a storage capacity of 6.75 million barrels of crude and condensate.
According to Equinor, the tanks were storing 1.8 million barrels when the hurricane hit.
A coffin peeks out of a grave in a shattered cemetery in McLean’s Town on the island of Grand Bahama
Two badly damaged cars lie on top of a pile of debris in Marsh Harbour in the Bahamas, with 1,300 people still unaccounted for after the Category 5 storm
As the clean-up continues lights have begun to flicker on in some neighborhoods, and crews were seen repairing transformers in other areas.
Among those celebrating the return of electricity was rental car company driver Clifton Williams, who was driving home from work earlier this week when he saw an illuminated streetlight for the first time since the hurricane.
‘I didn’t expect that so quickly,’ he said. ‘First thing I do, I cut on the fan and cool off myself,’ he added, saying he slept well for the first time in more than a week thanks to the fan.
But the small villages that dot the eastern coast of Grand Bahama have barely received any help.
Some residents hitchhike daily from Freeport to their destroyed homes to sort through their belongings and clean up.
Tereha Davis, a 45-year-old fisherwoman, said she was unable to find a ride one day and ended up walking eight miles under the blistering sun.
On Wednesday, she walked through McLean’s Town wearing bright purple surgical gloves, taking a break from cleaning as she looked for something to drink.
She and others said they had not seen any government officials and have only received food and water from some nonprofit groups.
Approximately 76,000 people were affected by Dorian, the UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) has said, citing official reports.
A destroyed home is seen in Marsh Harbour on Tuesday a week after the hurricane stalled over the Bahamas and caused catastrophic damage
A member of the Canadian Burnaby Firefighters Search & Rescue Task Force searches for victims after Hurricane Dorian hit the Abaco Islands in Marsh Harbour
Of these, thousands have been evacuated and about 860 are in emergency shelters in the capital city of Nassau.
As they wait for more help, people across Grand Bahama waded into the cleanup, tossing out mattresses, tearing off roof shingles and clearing branches and power lines as they stood near concrete walls that Dorian knocked down.
Earlier, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) spokesman Carl Smith told reporters that some of the missing people may eventually be located.
‘At this point, there are approximately 2,500 individuals registered on the Bahamian government register (of missing people),’ Smith said.
‘This list has not yet been checked against government records of who is staying in shelters or who have been evacuated,’ he said.
‘Some individuals who have been evacuated from Abaco and Grand Bahama have not yet registered with social services.
‘As we are able to cross-reference our data sets, we will be able to inform family members and reunite survivors with loved ones.’
Police officers search for the dead in the destroyed Mudd neighborhood after Hurricane Dorian hit the Abaco Islands last week
A shattered and water-filled coffin lies exposed to the elements in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, at the cemetery in McLean’s Town
At least 50 people died in the hurricane, which slammed into the northern Bahamas as a Category 5 storm, and officials have said they expect the number to rise significantly.
‘We’re not going to speculate on what the final numbers will be,’ Smith said. ‘We understand that people are concerned and so are we.’
Dorian caused catastrophic damage by stalling for three days over the northern edge of the archipelago, moving at just 1mph at one stage.
It then went on to lash part of the U.S. coast, although not with such force.