Tropical storm warning issued for hurricane-hit Bahamas

Miami (AFP) –


A tropical storm warning was issued on Friday for the northern Bahamas, where thousands of residents are struggling to get back on track after Hurricane Dorian left them homeless.

Bahamian meteorologists said the islands of Grand Bahama and Abaco, which were the worst-hit by Dorian, were in the path of the approaching weather system.

Winds of up to 60 miles (100 kilometers) per hour were expected and heavy rainfall could bring some flooding to the already saturated islands, said Trevor Basden, director of the Department of Meteorology.

Carl Smith, a spokesman for the Bahamian National Emergency Management Agency, said the storm could have an impact on relief and recovery efforts on Grand Bahama and Abaco.

"The weather system will slow down logistics," Smith told a press conference in Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas. "Fuel and water remain the biggest needs in Abaco."

Herve Verhoosel, a spokesman for the UN World Food Program, said flights to Marsh Harbour, the largest town on Abaco, were being suspended because of the storm.

Smith said residents of Abaco should seek shelter.

The NEMA spokesman also said 1,300 people remain unaccounted for following Hurricane Dorian -- the same number he gave on Thursday.

He said 71 people were staying in shelters on Grand Bahama island and 2,037 in shelters in New Providence, where Nassau is located.

"We're no longer receiving large numbers of evacuees from Abaco and Grand Bahama," Smith said.

He said the authorities were reopening Grand Bahama international airport in Freeport to limited commercial traffic.

The Bahamian authorities have put the death toll from Dorian, a devastating Category 5 storm, at 50 so far.

But they have said they expect that number to rise significantly and a former prime minister, Hubert Ingraham, said this week he feared the final toll could be in the hundreds.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres was to visit the Bahamas on Friday to express his "deep solidarity" with the Atlantic archipelago.

Guterres said Thursday that he wanted to encourage the international community to "increase the support to the Bahamas people and to the Bahamas government."

He also said Hurricane Dorian was a warning of the dangers of climate change.

"All this is a demonstration of what we have all been saying in the recent past," he said. "Climate change is running faster than we are and we need to have a much more ambitious approach in what we do in order to defeat climate change."