(By Chiara Palazzo, dpa)

Washington (dpa) – Some 2,500 people are reported missing in the Bahamas in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, authorities said on Wednesday, with the death toll expected to “significantly increase.”

The list, based on missing persons reports, had not been checked against government records of people evacuated or staying in shelters, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) spokesman Carl Smith told a press conference.

“The database’s processing is underway,” Smith said, adding that the number of missing was expected to decrease.

Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Minnis warned that while the official death toll stood at 50, “the number of deaths is expected to significantly increase.”

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“We are ramping up efforts to collect those who died in the storm,” Minnis added in a televised address, calling Dorian a “historic tragedy.”

People gather at the port for aid sent by family members and friends in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian in Freeport, Bahamas, Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019. Thousands of hurricane survivors are facing the prospect of starting their lives over but with little idea of how or where to even begin. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

Over 5,500 evacuated

The prime minister said that over 5,500 people had been evacuated to the island of New Providence to date, adding that “commercial carriers will be allowed to resume flights to Abaco starting today on a limited basis.”

The storm, which made its first landfall on the Caribbean archipelago on September 1, levelled entire neighbourhoods, with Grand Bahama and Abaco islands worst hit.

“Much of Abaco as we knew it is decimated and no longer exists. Flood waters in the streets made them appear like the ocean. Concrete structures were turned to dust, as if a massive bomb had exploded with atomic force,” Minnis said.

“East Grand Bahama has been laid to waste. Freeport, West End and much of Grand Bahama experienced horrible destruction, no living Bahamian has seen anything like this in their lifetime.”

The hurricane was a Category 5 storm – the strongest – when it made landfall on the Abaco Islands. It then moved towards the United States, making landfall a second time as a Category 1 storm in North Carolina before hitting Canada.

The sun sets behind a statuette of the Virgin Mary atop a grave broken by the force of Hurricane Dorian, in the cemetery of Mclean’s Town, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Wednesday Sept. 11, 2019. Bahamians are tackling a massive clean-up a week after Hurricane Dorian devastated the archipelago’s northern islands. Residents sift through debris as they try to save prized possessions and prepare to rebuild from one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes in history. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
A car is sunk in the wreckage and debris caused by Hurricane Dorian, in Mclean’s Town, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Wednesday Sept. 11, 2019. Bahamians are tackling a massive clean-up a week after Hurricane Dorian devastated the archipelago’s northern islands. Residents sift through debris as they try to save prized possessions and prepare to rebuild from one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes in history. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
A man and girl peer out from a bakery and cafeteria in Freeport, Bahamas, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019. Those who survived Hurricane Dorian are facing the prospect of starting their lives over but with little idea of how or where to even begin. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Ebony Thomas looks at her phone a she sits on a sofa inside her shattered home, in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, in Mclean’s Town, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Wednesday Sept. 11, 2019. The 15-year-old lost three members of her family to the Hurricane. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Tereha Davis, 45, eats a meal of rice as she sits among the remains of her shattered home, in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian in McLean’s Town, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Wednesday Sept. 11, 2019. She and others said they had not seen any government officials and have only received food and water from some nonprofit organizations. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
A coffin peaks out of a grave, in aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, at the shattered cemetery in Mclean’s Town, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Wednesday Sept. 11, 2019. Bahamians are tackling a massive clean-up a week after Hurricane Dorian devastated the archipelago’s northern islands. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
A shattered and water-filled coffin lays exposed to the elements in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, at the cemetery in Mclean’s Town, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Wednesday Sept. 11, 2019. Bahamians are tackling a massive clean-up a week after Hurricane Dorian devastated the archipelago’s northern islands. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Pastor Jeremiah Saunders poses for a photo among the ruins of his church that was destroyed by Hurricane Dorian, in High Rock, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Wednesday Sept. 11, 2019. Jeremiah says “I spoke to the water: ‘Peace, be still.’ It never listened,” Saunders said with a wide smile and then grew serious as he focused on the task that tens of thousands of Bahamians now face on two islands devastated by the Category 5 storm: the clean-up. (AP Photo / Ramon Espinosa)
People line up to buy pre-paid cell phone cards, for sale from a mobile Aliv office, after the passing of Hurricane Dorian in Freeport, Bahamas, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019. While power has returned to much of Grand Bahama, spokesman Carl Smith for the country’s emergency management Agency said the electrical infrastructure around Marsh Harbour, Abaco’s largest city, was destroyed. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Ayfon Minus, 8, collects donated food that was brought by helicopter from Freeport to the Hurricane Dorian destroyed village of High Rock, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
A helicopter flies over the village of High Rock after delivering emergency supplies in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian In High Rock, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (AP Photo / Ramon Espinosa)

Author: ANA Newswire