By Vandana Rambaran | Fox News
The Bahamas health minister Duane Sands said Wednesday that the death toll for Hurricane Dorian has risen from seven to 20 and more deaths are expected as the storm clears the island archipelago and threatens to make landfall in the U.S. later this week.
Sands confirmed that 17 victims are from the Abaco islands and three are from Grand Bahama, adding that three of the victims died after being transported to a hospital in nearby New Providence.
SOME 8,000 NATIONAL GUARD TROOPS IN 4 STATES READY FOR HURRICANE DORIAN RELIEF EFFORTS
Details about the victims were scarce as the government continues to contact family members, Sands said.
Sitting in her home’s lounger, Virginia Mosvold, 84, is lowered from a truck by volunteers after being rescued from her flooded home on Ol’ Freetown Farm farm in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian before being taken to the hospital on the outskirts of Freeport, Bahamas, Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
The Category 5 hurricane slammed the Bahamas this past Sunday, first hitting the Abaco islands and then ravaging Grand Bahama as a Category 4 storm. The hurricane, which is the most powerful to ever hit the island, lingered for nearly two days leaving wreckage and disaster in its wake.
“We are in the midst of one of the greatest national crises in our country’s history,” Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said at a news conference on Tuesday.
The Bahamian government sent hundreds of police officers and marines as well as doctors, nurses and other health care workers to the islands, where the land remained muddy, houses flattened or soddened and debris-strewn across the landscape, to aid the nearly 70,000 residents in the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama who were severely affected by the storm.
A child walks past clothes laid out to dry on a field in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, in the Arden Forest neighborhood of Freeport, Bahamas, Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019. Rescuers trying to reach drenched and stunned victims in the Bahamas fanned out across a blasted landscape of smashed and flooded homes Wednesday, while disaster relief organizations rushed to bring in food and medicine. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
“Right now there are just a lot of unknowns,” Parliament member Iram Lewis told Fox13. “We need help.”
Nine U.S. Coast Guard cutters, as well as Britain’s Royal Navy and several relief organizations including the United Nations and the Red Cross, sent aid to the Bahamas, helping to airlift patients to medical facilities and safety shelters with food and medicine. The U.S. government also dispatched urban search-and-rescue teams to assist the local government in sifting through the wreckage.
Dorian, which has been downgraded to a Category 2 storm, has been making its way towards the U.S. traveling close to the east coast of Florida and is expected to make landfall in the Carolinas on Wednesday night or Thursday, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Vandana Rambaran is a reporter covering news and politics at foxnews.com.