Hurricane Dorian pounded the Bahamas on Monday, killing at least five people and inundating homes with floodwater ahead of its expected advance on the U.S. coast, where more than a million people were ordered evacuated, Reuters reported.
Dorian, one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes on record, had been hovering over Grand Bahama Island for almost 40 hours by Monday night and was expected to stay put until at least Tuesday morning, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in its latest advisory at 11 p.m. EST (0300 am GMT).
It was about 30 miles (55 km) north northeast of Freeport, Grand Bahama Island and about 100 miles (160 km) east of West Palm Beach at 11 p.m., the NHC said.
It warned residents not to leave shelters until the eye of the hurricane passes. The storm’s strongest winds are usually close to the eye.
At least five people were killed in the Abaco Islands, in the northern Bahamas, Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Minnis told a news conference on Monday.
“We are in the midst of a historic tragedy in parts of our northern Bahamas,” Minnis said. “Our mission and focus now is search, rescue and recovery.”
He added that the U.S. Coast Guard was on the ground in Abaco and had rescued a number of injured individuals. Critically injured people were being taken to hospitals on New Providence, the country’s most populous island.
A Reuters witness staying in the hotel at the Abaco Beach Resort on the island of Great Abaco said winds tore off the shutters and part of the roof, and the site was surrounded by a lake of water.
Dorian threatened to unleash a storm surge that could raise water levels by as much as 12 to 18 feet (4-5 meters) above normal on Grand Bahama Island, the NHC said.
As many as 13,000 homes in the Bahamas may have been destroyed or severely damaged, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said.