TENS of thousands of people are in need of ‘life-saving assistance’ in the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian left areas ‘uninhabitable’ and corpses floating in the water.
At least 43 people were killed by the storm but it is feared the death toll could rise much further as rescuers continue their work.
In Great Abaco, in the northern Bahamas, conditions were said to be desperate with aid agencies warning residents were unable to get food or clean water.
Darren Tosh, director of aid group Samaritan’s Purse, told the BBC he was worried bodies left in the water and destroyed crops could lead to the spread of disease. ‘There’s a horrible amount of disease that can develop after an event like this,’ he said.
Tourism minister Dionisio D’Aguilar urged Bahamians to ‘come together’ to help the recovery effort.
‘There are no words to convey the grief we feel for our fellow Bahamians in the Abacos and Grand Bahama,’ he said.
But in a message to the thousands of tourists who visit the region, he said many parts of the Bahamas — an archipelago of more than 700 islands — were not affected by the hurricane.
‘We also implore travellers to continue visiting the Bahamian islands that were not impacted by Hurricane Dorian as this will help our people tremendously,’ Mr D’Aguilar added.
Planes, cruise ships and yachts were evacuating people from the Abaco Islands, with officials trying to reach areas still isolated by flooding and debris.
The country’s National Emergency Management Agency was deploying extra staff as it set up shelters and temporary housing across the islands and appealed for Bahamians to take in storm victims.
When it struck a week ago, Dorian was classed as a Category 5 hurricane with 185mph winds.
It hovered just offshore for more than a day and a half, obliterating thousands of homes.
Dorian has also been blamed for five deaths in the US after hitting North Carolina and one in Puerto Rico. Yesterday, it brought hurricane-force winds to far-eastern Canada, knocking out power to hundreds of thousands of people.
The storm hit near the city of Halifax, ripping roofs off apartment buildings, toppling a huge construction crane and uprooting trees.
The US National Hurricane Centre said it was centred about 55 miles east-northeast of thinly populated Anticosti Island with winds of up to 80mph.
Officials in Nova Scotia asked people in the province to stay off the roads so crews could safely remove trees and debris and restore power. The government said up to 700 Canadian military personnel would be helping restore electricity, clear roads and evacuate residents from flooded areas.
About 380,000 homes were reported to be in the dark in Nova Scotia with about 50,000 homes and businesses on Prince Edward Island also without power and 74,000 in New Brunswick.