Almost half of the 2,500 people listed as missing after Hurricane Dorian devastated the northwestern Bahamas have been tracked down, the government said Thursday.
The number of people unaccounted for now stands at 1,300, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) spokesman Carl Smith said.
Authorities were able to determine the whereabouts of 1,200 people by “cross-referencing databases,” he said.
Smith said that Bahamians can report people missing via a telephone hotline or at the nearest office of the Department of Social Services (DSS).
“As we are able to cross-reference our data sets, we will be able to inform family members and reunite survivors with loved ones,” the NEMA spokesman said.
NEMA has urged people who fled the Abacos and Grand Bahama Island to register with DSS to help authorities ensure that the missing persons list is as accurate as possible.
Bahamian officials say that many residents of the areas hardest hit by Dorian left the area aboard private aircraft or boats without notifying anyone, leaving relatives in the dark about their condition and whereabouts.
More than 3,000 people have left for the United States, according to the Bahamian government.
The number of confirmed deaths is 50, but officials acknowledge that the toll is certain to rise, though the government has dismissed accounts on social media and the press referring to thousands of fatalities as “false information.”
Dorian made landfall in the Abacos on Sept. 1 as a Category 5 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 295 km/h (185 mph). The storm then moved west and stalled, pounding Grand Bahama for two days.
“We are a nation in mourning,” Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said. “The grief is unbearable following the devastating impact of Hurricane Dorian, which has left behind death, destruction and despair on Grand Bahama and Abaco, our second and third most populous islands.”
Late Thursday, the Bahamian government issued a Tropical Storm Warning for the Abacos, Berry Islands, Bimini, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama Island and New Providence amid forecasts that a disturbance churning in the Caribbean would develop into a tropical cyclone within the next 48 hours. EFE es/dr