Belfast Telegraph

At least seven reported dead in Bahamas amid 'apocalyptic' scenes after Hurricane Dorian

Scene of devastation in Bahamas caused by Hurricane Dorian and captured by Royal Navy helicopter
Scene of devastation in Bahamas caused by Hurricane Dorian and captured by Royal Navy helicopter

By Aine Fox

Scenes of devastation in the Bahamas have been captured by a Royal Navy helicopter as the UK joined efforts to help the thousands of people affected by Hurricane Dorian.

At least seven people are reported to have died following the most powerful storm on record to hit the islands, with that number expected to rise as relief efforts continue.

The Royal Navy tweeted an image taken from its Wildcat helicopter, which showed roofs ripped off houses and debris floating in brown flood water.

A team of four humanitarian experts from the Department for International Development (DFID) arrived in Nassau this week to work alongside the Bahamas government's National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).

The crew of British ship RFA Mounts Bay, which had been stationed in the Caribbean since June in readiness for hurricane season, also joined relief efforts.

The ship has water carriers, hygiene and shelter kits on board, as well as the helicopter being used to assess the damage and airlift in supplies.

Jon Stone, DFID's humanitarian team leader in the Bahamas, said the ship was distributing lifesaving supplies to people hit by the storm.

He added: "Our immediate focus is lifesaving assistance.

"People there were under life-threatening conditions for quite a long time. The clock had started ticking to get them fresh water and shelter and it really is imperative that assistance is delivered quickly.

"Our critical priorities are to deliver UK Government relief where they are needed most and continue to support CDEMA to find where those people are who need that lifesaving assistance."

Mr Stone said that on a reconnaissance flight he had seen roofs torn from homes and even buildings ripped from their foundations due to the high winds.

He added: "This is the effect of incredibly high winds of up to 180mph.

"It really is sad to look at and very difficult for the people here."

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: "The highly skilled crew and specialist equipment of RFA Mounts Bay have been on call since June to support our overseas territories and friends in the hurricane season.

"Its Wildcat helicopter has begun conducting reconnaissance flights of the Bahamas to help assess the damage and the crew have begun distributing UK aid.

"My thoughts remain with those affected and our world-class military will continue to assist the Bahamas government to offer relief and aid to those who need it most."

Thousands of homes were damaged or destroyed when strong winds and rains hit the Abaco and Grand Bahama islands on Sunday, with one local relief worker describing "apocalyptic" scenes.

Damage was made worse by the fact the hurricane barely moved for almost two days, battering the islands with winds of up to 185mph and torrential rain, before moving away towards Florida on Tuesday.

People on the US coast are making final preparations for what is now a category 2 storm, with winds at a still-dangerous 105mph.

International Development Secretary Alok Sharma said he had been briefed on the situation in the Bahamas and that his department is working closely with the Ministry of Defence and Foreign Office to "get support to those in need".

In a statement he added: "The images of devastation and destruction across the Bahamas are truly shocking."

Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Minnis told reporters: "We are in the midst of one of the greatest national crises in our country's history.

"No effort or resources will be held back."

Belfast Telegraph


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