The death toll from Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas will be “staggering”, the country’s government has warned as aid efforts are being stepped up.
The official death toll stands at 23, but is expected to rise further.
Officials are sending morticians and 200 body bags to the Abaco Islands, the worst-hit part of the archipelago.
Dorian – which devastated the northern Bahamas from Sunday to Tuesday – is now battering the coasts of South and North Carolina in the US, but is weakening.
Officials say hundreds, possibly thousands, are still missing in the Abacos and Grand Bahama.
On Thursday Health Minister Duane Sands warned of a “staggering” final count.
“The public needs to prepare for unimaginable information about the death toll and the human suffering,” he told local radio.
Dorian hit the Bahamas as a category 5 hurricane with winds reaching 185mph, matching the highest ever recorded at landfall, and stayed over affected areas for two days.
What is the damage to Bahamas?
The International Red Cross fears 45% of homes on Grand Bahama and the Abacos – some 13,000 properties – were severely damaged or destroyed.
Parts of the Bahamas received up to 35in (89cm) of rain, leaving vast areas of it flooded.
The Island of Great Abaco is virtually uninhabitable, with bodies piled up, no water, power or food, and militias formed to prevent looting, local media report.
Aerial images over the Abacos showed mile upon mile of destruction, with roofs torn off, scattered debris, overturned cars, shipping containers and boats, and high water levels.
The only international airport in Grand Bahama was devastated.