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Royal Navy helping in ‘challenging’ conditions in Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian

Emergency shelter and hygiene kits, more than 8,000 bottles of water and hundreds of days’ worth of food have been delivered.

The Royal Navy has been helping to deliver vital aid to people in the Bahamas affected by Hurricane Dorian (MOD Handout/PA)
The Royal Navy has been helping to deliver vital aid to people in the Bahamas affected by Hurricane Dorian (MOD Handout/PA)

By Aine Fox, PA

UK experts and the Royal Navy are working in “challenging” conditions to deliver food and other vital supplies in the wake of Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas, with hopes for rapid improvement in the situation in the coming days.

At least 30 people were killed, with fears the death toll could rise, after the storm battered the Abaco and Grand Bahama islands with winds of up to 185mph winds and lashing rain.

The roofs of homes were ripped off, roads damaged and debris left floating in brown floodwater, with one local relief worker describing “apocalyptic” scenes.

The British Government has pledged £1.5 million to help deliver aid, saying it is estimated that several hundred British nationals live in the worst affected areas of the Bahamas.

The Foreign Office said it is working to establish how badly they have been affected and deploying staff and members of the British Red Cross for “emotional and practical support”.

A Royal Navy helicopter rescued three children, and a British person who was trapped beneath rubble for several days after the hurricane.

The Wildcat helicopter, operating from Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Mounts Bay – which has been stationed in the Caribbean since June in readiness for hurricane season, was flying over Great Abaco Island to assess the damage when its crew were called to rescue a casualty from Elbow Cay.

The crew pulled the person from the rubble and took them back to Mounts Bay to be given emergency medication before being airlifted to the capital Nassau.

The Royal Navy said that the Wildcat also rescued a woman, her two children and a baby, and took them to Nassau.

The Navy has so far provided emergency shelter and hygiene kits for hundreds of people, more than 8,000 bottles of water and hundreds of days’ worth of food.

The ship is also using an onboard system to turn sea water into drinking water to help an estimated 62,700 people across the Bahamas who need access to clean water.

A team of five 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).

Head of the UK team, Jon Stone, said on Friday: “The clearance process is still going. There are roads that are damaged. We expect it to change rapidly over the next couple of days but it is still a challenging situation.”

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “Hurricane Dorian has devastated lives and communities in The Bahamas.

“The Foreign Office is co-ordinating the UK’s cross government response so that we get aid and support to those who need it most.”

International Development Secretary Alok Sharma said: “DFID experts are working as part of the cross Government team alongside local authorities, the British military and international partners to urgently get life-saving assistance to the people of the Bahamas.”

The hurricane moved off towards Florida, having left a trail of devastation in its wake in the Bahamas.

Although it has weakened in strength, it has still caused serious problems in the US.

At least four people were killed in the south east of the country – all men in Florida or North Carolina who died in falls or by electrocution while trimming trees, putting up storm shutters or otherwise getting ready for the hurricane.

The storm is expected move up the Eastern Seaboard on Friday and Saturday, but is forecast to remain far enough offshore that its hurricane-force winds are unlikely to reach land.

Anyone worried about a loved one in the Bahamas who may need UK consular help can call 0207 008 1500.

The Foreign Office has advised against all travel to Grand Bahama and the Abaco Islands due to the impact of the hurricane.

PA

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