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'Staggering' Death Toll Expected in Bahamas

International aid effort is gaining momentum
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 6, 2019 3:50 AM CDT
Updated Sep 6, 2019 6:26 AM CDT
Extensive damage and destruction in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian is seen in Abaco, Bahamas, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019.   (AP Photo/Gonzalo Gaudenzi)
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(Newser) – The official death toll from Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas now stands at 30, but with hundreds, possibly thousands of people missing, authorities say the final count could be "staggering." "The public needs to prepare for unimaginable information about the death toll and the human suffering," Duane Sands, the country's health minister, said Thursday night. The country is sending morticians and at least 200 body bags to the hard-hit Abaco Islands, where there have been reports of militias forming amid looting and a lack of food and water, the BBC reports. The United Nations says around 70,000 people—more than a sixth of the country's population—"are in immediate need of life-saving assistance" on Grand Bahama and the Abaco Islands.

A British Royal Navy ship distributed supplies on Great Abaco Thursday while a Royal Caribbean cruise ship dropped off food and water on Grand Bahama, the AP reports. American Airlines flew a Boeing 737 to Nassau to drop off 14,000 pounds of supplies. Troops from the Rhode Island National Guard will arrive in the country to provide assistance Friday and the US Coast Guard has already rescued more than 200 survivors. "Our emergent priority is to get the critically wounded out and help the government of the Bahamas get the infrastructure back up so it's safe, sanitary, and livable—at least on a temporary basis—for those folks," Coast Guard Capt. James Passarelli tells CNN. Aerial footage shows extensive devastation from Dorian, which was the strongest hurricane ever to hit the country. (Read more Hurricane Dorian stories.)

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