20 dead in Bahamas as Hurricane Dorian, back to Category 3, threatens Carolinas – NBC News

The death toll in the Bahamas from Hurricane Dorian rose sharply Wednesday as the storm regained strength to become a Category 3 “major” hurricane. It was headed toward the Carolinas, where some of the worst flooding in 30 years was expected beginning Thursday.

Bahamas Health Minister Duane Sands told NBC News on Wednesday that 20 deaths had been confirmed so far and that the number was expected to rise. Prime Minister Hubert Minnis had called Dorian “one of the greatest national crises in our country’s history” on Tuesday, when only seven deaths had been confirmed.

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“We’ve had an absolute horrendous tragedy, numbers of lives lost, and we have not completed the door-to-door,” Sand said Wednesday.

In a nationwide address Wednesday night, Minnis said, “So many families have been deeply impacted” by Dorian, which he said “has left generational devastation across Abaco and Grand Bahama.”

Abaco Island was especially hard hit by Dorian. Countless homes were stripped of their roofs, trees were toppled, streets were flooded and debris and cars were strewn about.

Full coverage: Latest stories and video on Hurricane Dorian

Minnis said he had spoken with U.S. President Donald Trump, who he said had pledged the United States’ full support and assistance. Earlier, Trump said he had sent the U.S. Coast Guard to the Bahamas to provide humanitarian relief.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper pointed to the devastation in the Bahamas to urge people to take evacuation orders seriously. He activated 300 National Guard members and issued evacuation orders for all barrier islands beginning Wednesday.

The Latest on Dorian:

  • At midnight, the hurricane, which strengthened slightly back to Category 3 status as predicted, was about 105 miles south of Charleston, South Carolina, and was moving north-northwest at 7 mph.
  • The storm had maximum sustained winds of about 115 mph.
  • At least 20 people have died in the Bahamas, and more deaths are expected to be reported, the prime minister said.
  • Officials said Dorian was set to move near or over the South Carolina coast on Thursday and then near or over the North Carolina coast on Thursday night and Friday.

“We have seen the life-and-death effects of this storm in the Bahamas, and we urge everyone on the islands at the coast to leave,” Cooper said in a statement.

The National Hurricane Center had said earlier that Dorian could pick up strength on Wednesday night and briefly jump back from Category 2 to Category 3. It was reclassified when its maximum sustained winds reached 115 mph late Wednesday.

At midnight ET, Dorian was tracking north-northwest at 7 mph about 105 miles south of Charleston, South Carolina. The hurricane center said it was likely to fluctuate “at the border of Category 2 or 3 intensity as it moves near the Southeast coast of the United States.”

The hurricane center said Dorian would move near or over the South Carolina coast on Thursday. It was expected to move near or over the North Carolina coast on Thursday night and Friday.


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