Hundreds of Hurricane Dorian victims have fled the Bahamas as thousands more anxiously await evacuation from the devastated islands.
The hurricane tore through the islands earlier this week, leaving a trail of destruction and a humanitarian crisis in its wake.
The official death toll rose to 43 on Friday, but is expected to increase further, officials told local media.
With aid efforts under way, many survivors are scrambling to evacuate.
On Friday, crowds of victims desperate to be leave amassed in their thousands at ports in Great Abaco and Grand Bahama, two of the worst-hit islands.
Frustrations mounted as survivors, carrying what few possessions they had left, complained of “chaotic” and slow evacuations.
As Gee Rolle, 44, waited for a private boat with his wife, he criticised the government, telling the Associated Press “only animals can live here”.
Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Minnis, speaking to survivors at the port in Abaco, called for calm and promised more free transport.
Thousands of people are attempting to flee Great Abaco and Grand Bahama, two of the worst-hit areas
Later on Friday, Mr Minnis confirmed the death toll had risen to 43, up from 30. In a statement he said: “The loss of life we are experiencing is catastrophic and devastating.”
Now a category one hurricane, Dorian is currently churning along the eastern US seaboard towards Nova Scotia.
Earlier on Friday, hundreds who refused to evacuate Ocracoke Island in North Carolina were stranded when the hurricane made landfall.
What’s happening with evacuations in the Bahamas?
On Friday, many of the evacuations were carried out by private boats and planes, as the Bahamian government awaited the arrival of other transport.
Helicopters and boats have been deployed but could be delayed by severe flooding, the Bahamian Health Ministry said.
Around 250 evacuees left Abaco on a boat bound for Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas. National Voice of the Bahamas radio reported that another boat with hundreds aboard was on its way.
A further 200 people were evacuated from Abaco on Bahamasair flights.
In Grand Bahama, a large cruise ship offering free passage to Florida allowed passengers with permission to enter the US to board.
One survivor, 75-year-old Firstina Swain, told Reuters news agency the “people of Abaco need to get out” because “there are too many bodies”.
“Nobody can help anybody in Abaco, there’s no place safe, everything is destroyed,” she said.
According to the UN, AT least 70,000 Bahamians are in need of immediate humanitarian relief after their homes were destroyed by the hurricane.
The PM and his government have been criticised for the speed of their response to the humanitarian crisis.
Chaotic air traffic control is said to be hampering relief and evacuations operations, the Miami Herald reports.
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