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Bahamian gov't finds nearly half the 2,500 reported missing after storm

BAHAMAS HURRICANE (ADDS TEXT) | 12 de septiembre de 2019

San Juan, Sep 12 (efe-epa).- Almost half of the 2,500 people listed as missing after Hurricane Dorian devastated the northwestern Bahamas have been tracked down, the government said Thursday.

The number of people unaccounted for now stands at 1,300, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) spokesman Carl Smith said.

Authorities were able to determine the whereabouts of 1,200 people by "cross-referencing databases," he said.

Smith said that Bahamians can report people missing via a telephone hotline or at the nearest office of the Department of Social Services (DSS).

"As we are able to cross-reference our data sets, we will be able to inform family members and reunite survivors with loved ones," the NEMA spokesman said.

NEMA has urged people who fled the Abacos and Grand Bahama Island to register with DSS to help authorities ensure that the missing persons list is as accurate as possible.

Bahamian officials say that many residents of the areas hardest hit by Dorian left the area aboard private aircraft or boats without notifying anyone, leaving relatives in the dark about their condition and whereabouts.

More than 3,000 people have left for the United States, according to the Bahamian government.

The number of confirmed deaths is 50, but officials acknowledge that the toll is certain to rise, though the government has dismissed accounts on social media and the press referring to thousands of fatalities as "false information."

Dorian made landfall in the Abacos on Sept. 1 as a Category 5 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 295 km/h (185 mph). The storm then moved west and stalled, pounding Grand Bahama for two days.

"We are a nation in mourning," Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said. "The grief is unbearable following the devastating impact of Hurricane Dorian, which has left behind death, destruction and despair on Grand Bahama and Abaco, our second and third most populous islands."

Late Thursday, the Bahamian government issued a Tropical Storm Warning for the Abacos, Berry Islands, Bimini, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama Island and New Providence amid forecasts that a disturbance churning in the Caribbean would develop into a tropical cyclone within the next 48 hours. EFE es/dr

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Celebrities turn out to help Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian

San Juan, Sep 12 (efe-epa).- Celebrities such as pop singer Rihanna and US basketball icon Michael Jordan have thrown themselves into helping the Bahamas in its recovery tasks after the devastating passage of Hurricane Dorian almost two weeks ago.

The government, which sets the official death toll at 50 for the moment, estimated that some 10,000 people on Abaco Island need water, food and temporary housing, while the United Nations says that 70,000 people in the archipelago lack adequate housing in the zones affected by the storm.

Some 2,500 people are estimated to be missing.

Former Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham, who governed between 1992-2002 and from 2007-2012, said - "speaking for himself" at a brief press conference - that "hundreds of people" had died on Abaco Island and a "significant number" on Grand Bahama Island.

A number of celebrities are taking positive advantage of their fame for a good cause and being generous in helping Bahamas residents who are eyeing the skies fearing that a new tropical depression or storm may be forming over the central and southeastern Bahamas.

If another storm does form, it would bring heavy rain and wind through Friday, according to the Miami-based National Hurricane Center.

NBA star and current owner of the Charlotte Hornets Michael Jordan announced that he will donate $1 million to the islands affected by Dorian, specifically Abaco and Grand Bahama.

"I am devastated to see the destruction Hurricane Dorian has brought to the Bahamas, where I own property and visit frequently," said Jordan in a statement posted on Twitter by his manager Estee Portnoy.

"My heart goes out to everyone who is suffering and to those who have lost loved ones," he added.

In 2018, the basketball legend donated $2 million to help the state of North Carolina, where the Charlotte Hornets are based, after the passage of Hurricane Florence.

Barbadian singer Rihanna announced on the social networks that via her Clara Lionel Foundation she will provide aid to those affected by the Category 5 hurricane in the Bahamas.

"You are in our prayers," Rihanna, who heads the foundation bearing the names of her grandparents Clara and Lionel Braithwaite, said on Twitter.

The foundation focuses on helping "people having a chance at a better life through health, education and proactive measures to emergency response," the singer said in another Twitter post.

Meanwhile, film actor Tyler Perry, who has directed box office successes about the African American community, a few days after Dorian struck sent his personal aircraft to the archipelago loaded with supplies.

Among the other celebrities working to help the Bahamas in the wake of the storm are US reality television star Bethenny Frankel, music group R.E.M., rapper and actor Ludacris and singer Lenny Kravitz.

Meanwhile, Spanish chef Jose Andres, who arrived in the Bahamas before Dorian struck, has already served more than 100,000 meals to local residents and on Wednesday, via his World Central Kitchen NGO, he sent 500,000 pounds of water, supplies and food to Abaco Island given the forecast that heavy rains could beset the area on Thursday and Friday.

The damage from Dorian in the Bahamas is estimated at $7 billion, considerably more than the archipelago nation earns each year from tourism - $2.8 billion.

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