The New York Times Company
NASSAU, Bahamas — About 2,500 people have been reported missing in the wake of Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas, but the names have yet to be checked against those who sought shelter or evacuated, the government said Wednesday.
The number of confirmed dead from the storm remained at 50 on Wednesday, a figure that government officials say is certain to rise. The Bahamas Defense Forces began posting pictures on social media this week of soldiers in hazardous material suits collecting muddied corpses and dropping them into pickup trucks.
Hurricane Dorian toppled thousands of homes on the Abacos Islands last week and flooded more on Grand Bahama, leaving both nearly uninhabitable.
The Bahamian government’s efforts to quantify the number of missing have been hampered by the many directions in which people fled.
Some 2,048 people are in government-run shelters in Nassau. At least 4,000 Bahamians left the islands and had entered the United States by Monday, U.S. immigration authorities said.
A database with the names of the missing, those sheltered and those who evacuated is being built to make for more effective cross-checking, said Carl Smith, a spokesman for the Bahamian National Emergency Management Agency.
“As we are able to cross reference our data sets, we will be able to inform family members and reunite survivors with loved ones,” Smith said. “At the shelters, we are facilitating individuals who are able to reach out directly to family and friends to let them know where they are.”
It was unclear whether the list of missing includes reports from people in the United States who had simply not heard from their relatives on the islands.
McAdrian Farrington, whose 5-year-old son and namesake went missing after a storm surge at his Murphy Town home in the Abacos Islands, said he feared that authorities would never find all of the missing.
“Someone sent a voice clip to my phone saying there are hundreds of bodies in Abaco, and yeah, I think it’s true,” he said in an interview last week. “There’s a lot of people missing, not just my son.”
He did not criticize the government, but said he believed it was too big a job for the Bahamas.
“You can’t just be looking in Abaco,” he said. “They’ve got to get boats and check the water. Get to the ocean.”