(BBC) – Hurricane Dorian appears to have caused “unprecedented” devastation in the Bahamas, the country’s leader says.
The storm, the second-strongest Atlantic hurricane on record, remains “extremely dangerous”, said Prime Minister Hubert Minnis.
Some 13,000 houses are feared damaged or destroyed, according to the International Red Cross.
Pictures showed surging floodwaters, upturned cars and snapped trees.
Eyewitness videos and reports paint a picture of massive and widespread flooding, with panicked families fleeing to their roofs to escape rising floodwaters. One death has been reported.
Dorian is the most powerful storm to hit the Bahamas since records began and will later move “dangerously close” to the US east coast, according to forecasters.
It hit the Bahamas as a category five hurricane but has now weakened to a category four with maximum sustained winds near 150mph (240 km/h), says the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) in its latest update.
Dorian will however remain “a powerful hurricane during the next couple of days”.
The NHC said that only a slight deviation in the path of the storm could bring Dorian directly over Florida’s east coast, which is already expected to face life-threatening storm surges and dangerous winds over the next couple of days.
The US states of Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina have all declared states of emergency.