Hurricane Dorian appears to have caused “unprecedented” devastation in the Bahamas, the country’s leader says.
The category five storm, the second-strongest Atlantic hurricane on record, remains “extremely dangerous”, said Prime Minister Hubert Minnis.
Some 13,000 houses are feared damaged or destroyed, according to the International Red Cross.
Dorian is the most powerful storm to hit the Bahamas since records began and will later move “dangerously close” to the US east coast, according to forecasters.
It is moving with maximum sustained winds near 165mph (270km/h). A “life-threatening storm surge” could raise water levels by as much as 23ft (7m) in parts of Grand Bahama island, which is currently being pummelled by Dorian, said the US National Hurricane Center.
It said that only a slight deviation in the path of the storm could bring Dorian directly over Florida’s east coast, which is already expected to face life-threatening storm surges and dangerous winds over the next couple of days.
The US states of Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina have all declared states of emergency.