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Bahamas: 2,500 people registered as missing in wake of hurricane

Bahamian officials said on Wednesday that 2,500 people have been registered as missing in the wake of the devastating Hurricane Dorian but cautioned the full list of missing has not been checked to see if any of those people are in shelters.

“This list has not yet been checked against government records of who are staying in shelters or who have been evacuated,” National Emergency Management Agency (Nema) spokesman Carl Smith told a press conference. “The database processing is under way.”

Thousands of people are in shelters on the islands. Officials have confirmed 50 deaths caused by the 1 September storm making landfall.

More than a week after Dorian smashed thousands of homes on the country’s Grand Bahama and Abaco islands, the death toll stands at 50 and is expected to rise, with search and rescue crews still making their way through the ruins.

While power has returned to much of Grand Bahama, Smith says that the electrical infrastructure around Marsh Harbour, Abaco’s largest city, was destroyed.

Several hundred people who evacuated the damaged islands are already living in emergency tents around Nassau, the capital. Many more are in gymnasia and other temporary shelters.

Officials are planning to erect two “tent city” relief centers capable of housing about 4,000 people around hard-hit Marsh Harbour on Great Abaco Island, said John Michael-Clark, co-chairman of the Bahamas disaster relief and reconstruction committee.

The two centers, one to the north of the town, the other to the south, will provide temporary housing to people who wish to rebuild their homes on the island, he said. Officials estimated that 90% of the homes and buildings in Marsh Harbour were damaged or destroyed by Dorian’s top sustained winds of 185mph.

About 15,000 people are still in need of shelter or food, according to the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency. About 5,000 have been evacuated from the hardest-hit islands, which include Abaco, and another 6,000 to 7,000 remain there, according to a report shared by the UN World Food Program on Wednesday.

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