Riviera Beach (United States) (AFP) – Hurricane Dorian battered the Bahamas with ferocious wind and rain on Sunday, the monstrous Category 5 storm wrecking towns and homes as it churned on an uncertain path toward the US coast where hundreds of thousands were ordered to evacuate.
There was no immediate word on casualties in the low-lying islands.
Packing sustained winds of 185 miles per hour (295 kph), Dorian crashed onshore in the Abacos Islands, in the northwest of the Bahamas, as the strongest storm ever to hit the Caribbean chain.
It was tied for the second most powerful hurricane ever in the Atlantic basin, the US National Weather Service said — with footage on social media showing major destruction from howling gusts of wind and pounding seawater.
Parts of the Abacos were under water as forecasters warned they faced a towering 18 to 23 foot storm surge. Winds were gusting over 220 mph with no sign of weakening as the storm barreled west over the island of Grand Bahama, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said.
Video posted on the website of the Bahamian newspaper Tribune 242 showed water up to the roofs of wooden houses in what appeared to be a coastal town. Capsized boats floated in muddy brown water dotted with wooden boards, tree branches and other debris.
In other social media footage of what appears to be an inland area, cars were smashed or turned over, telephone poles and trees were snapped like twigs and debris filled the yards of severely damaged homes. AFP could not immediately confirm the authenticity of the footage.