United Nations, Sep 7 : As the UN and other aid partners respond to huge humanitarian needs in the hurricane-struck northern Bahamas, latest reports indicate that the death toll is likely to increase substantially, the head of an emergency medical relief team has said.
“We certainly expect the death toll to rise, I can’t tell you what that would be, but we’re really worried about it,” Dr Ian Norton, Manager of the World Health (WHO) Emergency Medical Teams Initiative, told journalists in Geneva.
“What we’ve seen unfortunately in this devastating storm surge - especially in a stationary storm – (it) produces what you would see maybe after a tsunami”, Dr Norton added. “And what we don’t see in those cases is injuries as such, we see unfortunately a lot of people drowned and losing their lives - drowning or surviving.”
As of Friday morning local time, 30 people are confirmed to have died after Hurricane Dorian hit the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama last weekend with maximum wind speeds of 297 kilometres per hour (185 mph).
But the Government says that thousands are still missing after the Category 5 storm brought with it a storm surge of 18 to 23 feet (5.5 to seven metres) and 76,000 people are believed to be homeless, in need of assistance.
The extreme level of destruction has been attributed by UN weather experts at the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) to the fact that Dorian “remained stationary, thus exacerbating the impacts of the hazards: wind, rain, waves and storm surge”.
In a statement on Friday, UN Migration Agency, IOM, said that “only minimal information” was available from the affected islands and that more detailed assessments of people’s requirements are urgently needed.(UNi)