Survivors of Hurricane Dorian are desperate to evacuate after the storm left a path of devastation in the Bahamas.

A government spokesperson said 43 people had died but that “this number is expected to grow significantly.”

More than 6,660 people were listed on the website Dorian People Search Bahamas as of Friday morning.

The UN estimates 70,000 people are in “immediate need of life-saving assistance”. The UN World Food Programme is sending storage units, generators and satellite equipment on top of eight metric tonnes of ready-to-eat meals.

The Red Cross predicts 45% of homes – nearly 13,000 properties – have been severely damaged or destroyed.

Parts of the Bahamas received 89 centimetres of rain leaving vast areas flooded.

Dorian is the most powerful hurricane on record to hit the Bahamas with winds of up to 298km/h. It was a Category 5 hurricane, the highest on the Saffir-Simpson scale of intensity, when it hit the islands last week and stalled in the north of the country for two days before continuing on its path.

Witnesses have reported widespread looting on the island of Abaco with people breaking into supermarkets.

Hundreds of people fled the island of Great Abaco by boat and place while thousands more lined up to get on a cruise ship which was leaving Grand Bahama. The US Coast Guard has rescued 295 people in the Bahamas since Dorian began.

Relief groups are focusing on getting doctors, nurses and medical supplies to the most affected areas while also providing survivors with food and safe drinking water.

The risks of outbreaks of diarrhoea and waterborne diseases are high because drinking water is likely contaminated with sewage.

On Saturday morning, Dorian was moving towards Nova Scotia as a Category 1 storm. It is expected to make landfall at 20:00 local time on Saturday.

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