Breaking News – Hurricane Dorian has pounded the northernmost islands of the Bahamas with winds gusting to more than 220mph (355km/h), the biggest storm to hit the Caribbean island chain in modern times.
The “catastrophic” category 5 storm forced the US states of Georgia and Carolina to issue evacuation orders for their coastal communities on Sunday night as the National Hurricane Center warned of storm surges that could reach 18ft to 23ft (5.5m-7m) above normal levels.
On Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas, footage soon emerged of floodwaters reaching halfway up the sides of family homes with parts of the roofs torn off. The island chain’s homes are built to withstand winds of at least 150mph (241km/h). Americans should “pray for the people in the Bahamas”, Donald Trump saidfrom Washington as south-eastern US states looked on nervously.
Bahamian prime minister Hubert Minnis said in a nationally televised news conference that a “monster storm” was battering the region. “This will put us to a test that we’ve never confronted before,” he said. “This is probably the most sad and worst day of my life to address the Bahamian people. I just want to say as a physician I’ve been trained to withstand many things, but never anything like this.”
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami said Dorian made a second landfall at 2pm US ET (1800 GMT) on Sunday, hitting Great Abaco Island with large waves and winds of 185mph with higher gusts. That was tied for the strongest Atlantic hurricane landfall on record, with the 1935 Labor Day hurricane.