Officials in the Bahamas say they are getting “reports of bodies being seen” Monday as slow-moving Hurricane Dorian continues to wreak havoc on the island nation, forcing first responders and residents to take cover amidst sustained wind gusts of 155 mph.
The Category 4 storm currently is moving across Grand Bahama Island at just 1 mph – and crews hoping to get a better assessment of the “catastrophic damage” reported in regions like the Abacos are still waiting for conditions to clear up, Foreign Minister Darren Henfield told state broadcaster ZNS.
“We have reports of casualties. We have reports of bodies being seen,” he said. “We cannot confirm those reports until we go out and have a look for ourselves.”
“We want to say to the citizens here in Abaco, in the impacted area, it is not safe to go outdoors,” Henfield added. “Power lines are down, lamp posts are down, trees are across the street – it is very dangerous to be outdoors if you don’t have to be outdoors. As soon as the weather permits, first responders will go to those areas where we have reports from individuals who were in distress.”
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT DORIAN'S PATH
The National Hurricane Center downgraded the storm to a Category 4 late Monday morning. As of 11 a.m. ET, its eye was located about 35 miles east of Freeport on Grand Bahama Island and 120 miles east of West Palm Beach, Fla.
Dorian is expected to make a “slow westward to west-northwestward motion” over the next day or so, followed by a “gradual turn toward the northwest and north”, the NHC says. “On this track, the core of extremely dangerous Hurricane Dorian will continue to pound Grand Bahama Island through much of today and tonight.”
“The hurricane will move dangerously close to the Florida east coast tonight through Wednesday evening,” it added, where a number of hurricane warnings and watches remain in effect.
On Sunday, Dorian’s wind gusts in the Bahamas reached speeds of 220 mph – tying the record as the most powerful Atlantic hurricane to make landfall, the Associated Press reported.
DORIAN IS THE STRONGEST STORM TO EVER THREATEN FLORIDA'S EAST COAST
Residents there desperate to find out about the status of their loved ones were calling into a ZNS live broadcast Monday, asking the anchors for any information they have heard.
The Eyewitness News station in the Bahamas interviewed a grandmother late Sunday who told them her 8-year-old grandson had died in the Abacos, possibly from drowning.
Videos posted on social media showed cars in the Bahamas submerged in water, homes with roofs torn off and communities inundated with storm surge.
The Associated Press also cited a spokesperson from Bahamas Power and Light as saying that the entire island of New Providence – the country’s most populous and home to the tourist destination of Nassau – was without power and their office in the hard-hit Abacos was torn apart.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
But despite the damage, Henfield told ZNS that the citizens of the Bahamas and its government are “holding strong.
“We ask you to continue to pray for us,” he said.