Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas: "There are many deaths and many still missing," Prime Minister says

By Caroline Linton

/ CBS News

Bahamas beginning Hurricane Dorian recovery

Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said in a nationwide address Wednesday night that "much" of the island of Abaco, where Hurricane Dorian hit on September 1, "is decimated and no longer exists." "There are many deaths, and many still missing," Minnis said.

The official death toll still stands at 50, with 42 of those deaths on Abaco and eight on Grand Bahama, but Minnis said the number of deaths is expected to "significantly increase."

The Bahamas' government said Wednesday that there are an estimated 2,500 names on a list of the missing, although names had not yet been checked against rosters of people evacuated or staying at shelters.

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Minnis said Dorian impacted the northwest Bahamas' islands for approximately 60 hours, with "the southern eyewall planted over Grand Bahama for about 30 hours."

Hurricane Dorian's devastation 42 photos

"Floodwaters in the streets made them appear like the ocean," Minnis said. "Concrete structures were turned to dust, as if a massive bomb had exploded with atomic force."

He said the Bahamas would hold a national day of prayer, and named hurricane response coordinators for the two most-affected islands.

In addition to the devastation in Abaco, Minnis said East Grand Bahama has been "laid to waste," and Freeport, West End and much of Grand Bahama "experienced horrible destruction."

Minnis said the government is "aggressively working" to set up and secure temporary housing on both islands. While power has been restored to much of Grand Bahama, the electrical grid around Abaco's largest city was destroyed, according to the Associated Press.

A senior administration official told CBS News on Wednesday that the Trump administration will not be granting protected status to people fleeing the destruction of the Bahamas.

It's something the Trump administration had said was a possibility, as the president's White House seeks to restrict the flow of immigrants into the country.

"The Bahamians impacted by Hurricane Dorian are facing a humanitarian crisis, and the American government, international partners and private organizations continue to support them with aid and services," a White House official told CBS News. "At this time we do not plan to invoke Temporary Protected Status for those currently in the United States."

Kathryn Watson and Fin Gomez contributed to this report.

First published on September 11, 2019 / 11:56 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Hurricane Dorian's devastation Police officers search for the dead in the destroyed Mudd neighborhood after Hurricane Dorian hit the Abaco Islands in Marsh Harbour

"Many deaths and many still missing," says Bahamas PM

Prime Minister said Dorian impacted the northwest Bahamas' islands for approximately 60 hours, with "the southern eyewall planted over Grand Bahama for about 30 hours"

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