Tropical storm warning issued for northwestern Bahamas
Count of people missing after Hurricane Dorian drops to 1,300
A tropical storm warning has been issued for islands in the northwestern Bahamas, including those most devastated by Hurricane Dorian more than a week ago, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said Thursday.
The warning covers the hardest-hit Abaco Islands, as well as Grand Bahama Island, Berry Islands, Bimini, Eleuthera and New Providence.
As of 5 p.m. ET, the system's centre was about 370 kilometres southeast of Great Abaco Island with maximum sustained winds of 50 km/h.
The system is expected to move across the northwestern Bahamas on Friday, and along or over the east coast of central Florida on Saturday, the NHC said.
"The disturbance is forecast to become tropical depression or a tropical storm during the next day or so," the NHC said.
Total rain accumulations of 50 to 100 millimetres could fall through to Sunday over the Bahamas and along the east coast of Florida north of West Palm Beach. Isolated maximum amounts of 175 millimetres are possible in the northwest and central Bahamas.
The Bahamian government now believes there are 1,300 people missing after Dorian plowed into the islands, a sharp decline from the 2,500 listed on the missing registry a day earlier, a government spokesperson said Thursday.
The Bahamas National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) on Wednesday had warned the larger figure could include people staying at shelters.
"The number of people registered missing with the Bahamas government is going down daily," NEMA spokesperson Carl Smith told a news briefing.
The count fell after the government cross-referenced lists of people evacuated from hard-hit islands with its registry of missing people, Smith said.
The official death count currently stands at 50 but Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Minnis on Wednesday warned he expects that to significantly increase.
UN chief visiting Bahamas on Friday
UN secretary general Antonio Guterres says he is flying to the Bahamas on Friday to express "deep solidarity" with its people and to raise awareness of the need for international assistance.
Guterres told reporters Thursday that the Category 5 hurricane, the worst-ever to hit the Bahamas, is "a clear illustration" of the impact of climate change along with cyclones in Mozambique, drought in the Sahel, fires in the Amazon and the Arctic, melting glaciers, and the bleaching of corals.
Two Dutch navy ships, meanwhile, have arrived in the Bahamas to help with the relief operation. The country's defence ministry said about 550 military personnel who arrived Wednesday will deliver aid to people on the hard-hit Abaco Islands.
People living in the devastated northern islands of the archipelago are piling up wreckage, and some are burning ruined clothes.
A preliminary report estimates Dorian caused some $7 billion US ($9 billion Cdn) in damage, although the government of the Bahamas has not yet offered any figures.
With files from Reuters and The Associated Press