Relief efforts ramp up amid fear of "staggering" death toll in storm ravaged Bahamas
07/09/2019 10:19, Bahamas/United States

(TAP) - Charities, government agencies and even cruise ships loaded with supplies and volunteers rushed emergency aid to the storm-ravaged Bahamas on Saturday amid fears of a "staggering" death toll left in the wake of Hurricane Dorian.

Bahama leaders believe hundreds and perhaps thousands remained missing in the archipelago nation of about 400,000 people, even as the official death toll rose only to 43 as of late on Friday.

U.S. President Donald Trump's administration requested airlift and logistical support from the Defense Department on Friday to support relief efforts for the Bahamas, the Miami Herald and other media reported.

The U.S. Coast Guard and other agencies have already provided help with U.S. Northern Command chief General Terrance O'Shaughnessy arriving in Nassau on Friday to assess the needs.

"We'll continue to beef up, we'll continue to collaborate with the government of the Bahamas," he told news reporters.

Hurricane Dorian, the most powerful hurricane on record to hit the Bahamas, parked itself over part of the archipelago for almost two days earlier this week, pummeling it with Category 5 winds, with some gusts topping 200 mph.

The most powerful hurricane on record to hit the Bahamas leveled some neighborhoods, swallowed others with storm surges and caused what one official described as a "staggering" number of deaths.

Dorian also devastated parts of the Outer Banks Islands in North Carolina, on Friday and it continued to push northward along the U.S. Atlantic coast early on Saturday.

It brought tropical storm force winds to southeastern Massachusetts and Nantucket Island and Martha's Vineyard on Saturday morning, according to an advisory from the Miami-based National Hurricane Center.

"Dorian's rain is just grazing New England," said Alex Lamers, a forecaster with the National Weather Service.

It is expected to make landfall in Canada's Nova Scotia province on Saturday night with winds of about 90 mph (150 kph) and leave up to 7 inches of rain before pushing further east as a weakened post-tropical storm by Sunday, the NHC said.

The Bahamas hade only a slight, 10 percent, chance of rain Saturday that was not expected to hamper relief efforts as Bahamas Health Minister Duane Sands spoke of "a tremendous loss of life."

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