Hurricane Victims Embalmed Amid ‘Staggering’ Bahamas Death Toll

(Bloomberg) -- Bahamas authorities are embalming the dead as they run out of space in coolers in which to store the “staggering” number of victims of Hurricane Dorian, the government said.

As search teams sift through rubble, attics and vegetation in the northern islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama islands, the death tally is likely to soar, Health Minister Duane Sands told local radio.

Hurricane Victims Embalmed Amid ‘Staggering’ Bahamas Death Toll

“We have a team of four morticians who have gone into Abaco to begin the process of embalming because we are running out of cooler capacity,” Sands said Thursday, in an interview with Nassau Guardian radio. “We have requested transportation of refrigerated coolers to north central and south of Abaco and similarly to Grand Bahama.”

As well as 30 confirmed deaths, the storm has left people with broken bones, head and spine injuries and partial amputations. Risk modeler Karen Clark & Co. estimated that the economic damage may cost the country about $7 billion.

Hurricane Victims Embalmed Amid ‘Staggering’ Bahamas Death Toll

The combination of dead bodies and raw sewage has contaminated ground water, raising concerns about outbreaks of diseases, which generally begin to show up within four to seven days, Sands said.

Governments and aid groups are airlifting in water, food and medical supplies and setting up clinics on the islands, Sands said.

Hurricane Victims Embalmed Amid ‘Staggering’ Bahamas Death Toll

Foreigners who want to help the Bahamas recover can simply book a holiday there, since most of the the nation’s 700 islands weren’t in Dorian’s path and escaped undamaged, said Joy Jibrilu, director general of Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation, in reply to written questions.

Tourism accounts for about half of the nation’s gross domestic product. The nation had record 6.6 million visitors last year.

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