The official death toll in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian stands at 50, but the National Emergency Management Agency has confirmed 2,500 people are now registered as missing in Nassau, Bahamas.
Multiple families say “their loved ones are among those unaccounted for”.
But officials caution the full list of people registered as missing has not been cross-referenced with shelters or those who have fled.
A spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency said: “This list has not yet been checked against government records of who are staying in shelters or who have been evacuated.”
Speaking at a news conference held on Wednesday, Carl Smith added: “The database processing is underway.”
More than 5,000 people had evacuated to New Providence, home of the island’s capital in Nassau.
The spokesman noted that they had seen a “significant reduction” in the number of people asking to be evacuated from the islands of Freeport and Great Abaco.
The Bahamas Gaming Operators Association said it had built more than 1,394 square metres of air-conditioned tent housing for over 800 people.
As of Wednesday, Bahamian officials said some 295 people were staying in those tents, with more expected to come, as they plan to erect two “tent city” relief centres “capable of housing around 4,000 people around hard-hit Marsh Harbour on Great Abaco Island”.
“The two centres will provide temporary housing to people who wish to rebuild their homes on the island,” according to officials, who “estimated that 90 per cent of the homes and buildings in Marsh Harbour were damaged or destroyed”.
Within the past week, there have been countless accounts by residents, desperately seeking some word on their loved ones.
They know there are thousands of people who may never see their loved ones again.
One woman said: “A lot of people lost their children, their mothers and their fathers, their families.”
Hope for the 2,500 people still missing is quickly diminishing.
In a nationally televised address, Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said: “Our sympathies go out to the families of each person who died.”
While the death toll remained at 50, he also conceded that “the large number of people missing meant that number would rise”.
“The number of deaths is expected to significantly increase/”
More “timely information on the loss of life” would be released as it becomes available, he added.
In a separate news conference on Wednesday, Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency officials said some 15,000 people are still in need of shelter or food.
Hurricane Dorian slammed into the Bahamas on September 1 as a ferocious Category 5 storm to become one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes in history to make a direct hit packing maximum sustained winds over 185 mph.
Projected estimates put the total cost of damage at $US3 billion in insured property in the Bahamas or elsewhere in the Caribbean.
- Top Feature Photo: Margie Gerthadauphin (bottom) and her daughter Kimberly try to salavage belongings from what remains of their home in Marsh Harbour, Bahamas – Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images