By Jason Cross / Gleaner Writer
A number of soldiers from the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) left the island yesterday for The Bahamas to carry out relief assistance following wide-scale devastation by Hurricane Dorian.
The first batch of soldiers from the Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) was dispatched yesterday morning, and officials said that a second team would be sent in the evening. The Jamaican Government had requested help from Canada to airlift the second team because of the size aircraft needed to transport the soldiers and supplies.
“They will be airlifting both men and equipment. So Jamaica will have a presence in The Bahamas, and we will be at the disposal of the Bahamian government if they require further assistance,” Prime Minister Andrew Holness said yesterday.
He pointed out that he has been receiving updates from Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis.
“He has given me an update on the situation in the islands that have been affected,” Holness said at a press conference.
The DART will be most active in constructing temporary accommodation, establishing relief distribution areas, aiding in convoy security, clearing distribution routes, re-establishing power supply, and carrying out security tasks as requested by the home country.
The Caribbean Development Bank (CDC) has also mobilised almost US$1 million to help Bahamas recover from the Category Five hurricane that battered the country earlier this week.
With the official death toll rising to 30, yesterday, Bahamas Health Minister Dr Duane Sands once again projected that the final count would be staggering and said that additional morticians were being flown into Abaco and Grand Bahama to embalm the bodies. Thousands of persons remain missing.
“Make no bones about it. The numbers are going to be far higher than 23. It is going to be significantly higher than that,” he said.
He also said that the government would bring in additional refrigerated coolers to properly store the dead.
“It’s just a matter of retrieving those bodies and making sure we understand how they died. It may seem as if we are splitting hairs, but not everyone who died, died in the storm,”Sands said. “It is way more than that … . There are only particular people that can declare persons dead. And until such persons are declared dead, they cannot be recorded as an official death.
“Literally hundreds, up to thousands, of people are still missing,” Joy Jibrilu, director general of the country’s Tourism and Aviation Ministry, told CNN yesterday.
Featured Photo: AP