Rescue efforts stepped up in the Bahamas

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Relief efforts were underway in the Bahamas on Saturday after swaths of the nation were decimated by Hurricane Dorian.

In places like the Abaco Islands there appears to be hardly anything left but debris, prompting evacuations. On two of the commonwealth’s largest islands “everything has been devastated,” Ellison Thompson, deputy director general of tourism and aviation, said.

The death toll stands at 43 but is expected to increase further. Volunteers with search dogs continue to scour neighbourhoods flattened by Hurricane Dorian, while global relief agencies are rushing to get food and shelter Saturday to some 70,000 people in the Bahamas left homeless on two northern islands.

Red Cross sends a second plane with humanitarian aid to Bahamas
A worker coordinates the shipment of a cargo with humanitarian aid at the Tocumen International Airport, in Panama City, Panama. Red Cross sent a second humanitarian aid plane with essential products from Panama to the Bahamas, where the trail of the destructive hurricane Dorian has left at least 43 dead and hundreds missing. ‘Bringing help to people in need is our number one priority. We are trying our best to reach marginalized areas,’ the federation said. EPA-EFE/CARLOS LEMOS

Meanwhile, Dorian has gained strength off the US east coast and is heading to the Canadian province of Nova Scotia.

US forecasters said on Saturday that the storm had sustained winds of 155 km/h and had increased from a category one to a category two hurricane.

Dorian was at category five when it made landfall in the Bahamas last Sunday with winds reaching 290km/h.

Officials believe hundreds of bodies are yet to be found in areas flattened by the winds or smashed by storm surges.

The situation has devolved into a “humanitarian crisis,” the Bahamian financial services ministry said Friday in a statement.

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Crewmembers from Royal Caribbean’s ‘Mariner of the Seas’ unload food packages as part of the company’s disaster relief operation to bring relief supplies and 20,000 daily meals to the Freeport, Bahamas community, in Freeport, Bahamas. EPA-EFE/CRISTOBAL HERRERA

NBC News reports that the cruise ship the Celebrity Equinox has changed its regularly scheduled itinerary for a seven-day Caribbean cruise, and instead set sail to help survivors of Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas.

On Friday, the ship’s kitchen staff prepared some 10,000 meals, while guests volunteered to plate and pack them. The ship was a hive of activity as the crew pulled double-duty. Even children — tasked with writing personalized cards to cheer up the victims — pitched in.

Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line ship Grand Celebration transported more than 1,100 Bahamians to the United States, the line said in a statement.

Evacuees were taken to Port of Palm Beach in Riviera Beach, Florida, early Saturday, according to the cruise line. The ship was in the Bahamas on Thursday and Friday with nearly 300 first responders, 850 boxed lunches and a total of 225,000 pounds of supplies, including food and water, the line stated.


Via NBC/CNN/The Guardian

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