‘Catastrophic’ Dorian strikes Bahamas with full fury

Abaco devastated by hurricane Dorian
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RIVIERA BEACH, United States (AFP) — Hurricane Dorian slammed into the northern Bahamas as a monster Category 5 storm on Sunday, pummelling the low-lying island chain with torrential rains and winds of violence unprecedented in its history.

Dorian made landfall twice in the Bahamas’ Abaco Islands — tying with the most powerful landfall ever recorded in the Atlantic with winds of 185 miles per hour (295 kph), according to the Miami-based National Hurricane Centre (NHC).

Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis broke down in tears as he addressed a news conference, calling it “probably the most sad and worst day of my life,” the Nassau Guardian reported.

“We’re facing a hurricane … one that we’ve never seen in the history of the Bahamas,” he said.

The Abaco Islands were reported to be under water as forecasters warned it was facing a towering 18 to 23 feet storm surge. Winds were gusting over 220 mph, the NHC said.

Footage shot in Cooper’s Town, Abaco and obtained by AFP showed waves crashing violently onshore, sending up huge clouds of spray along the coastline.

Local radio reported that people were calling for help after winds blew the roof off the Island Breezes Hotel in Marsh Harbour, a commercial hub in the Abacos.

“Things are really starting to rock and roll,” a post on the Facebook page of the Hope Town Bulletin in Abacos said at 10 am local time.

Many Abacos residents were reported to have opted to ride out the hurricane rather than heed government warnings to evacuate.

The Nassau Guardian quoted local resident Troy Albury as saying 150 people stayed behind in Guana Cay, in the centre of the Abacos, to face the storm’s fury. Only eight left on the last ferry out, he said.

Power went out as the storm approached, a resident of Man-o-war Cay in the Abacos told AFP.

In Grand Bahama, meanwhile, thousands have evacuated Dorian’s predicted path.

“It feels like we are standing in a line waiting for a beating,” Yasmin Rigby, a resident of the island’s main city Freeport, told AFP.

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