Five people are feared dead as the most powerful storm to hit the Caribbean islands of the Bahamas since records began has torn roofs from buildings and caused severe flooding.
Hurricane Dorian, a category five storm, has sustained winds of up to 180mph (285km/h).
A “life-threatening” storm surge of 23ft (7m) is also predicted in places.
The hurricane is moving slowly westwards and may hit areas of the eastern US seaboard.
The US states of Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina have all declared states of emergency.in the Bahamas,officials said at least five people were killed as Hurricane Dorian continues to batter the country.
Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said the deaths were confirmed at the north-eastern Abaco Islands, which bore the brunt of the storm.
Some 13,000 houses are feared damaged or destroyed, according to the International Red Cross.
Dorian, the second-strongest Atlantic hurricane on record, remains “extremely dangerous”, Mr Minnis said.
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.
The storm is hovering over Grand Bahama, having earlier made landfall on the Abaco Islands.
It has brought ferocious winds and massive amounts of water to both areas, which are in the north of the Bahamas archipelago. Grand Bahama, with a population of about 50,000, is only 100km (60 miles) east of West Palm Beach in Florida.
Forecasters had warned the storm could create “life-threatening” storm surges as high as 23ft (7m).
Clint Watson, a journalist based in the capital Nassau, said people in Grand Bahama were being hit with “buckets of rain” and posting videos online showing water rising to the windows of their attics.
“You can’t fathom that but that’s what people are showing us with their videos, saying ‘Please, come and rescue me. I’m in the roof of my home and this is where the water is’. And you can see
Local media report that the international airport is under water.
The International Red Cross also said as many as 13,000 houses could have been destroyed. “There might no longer be any clean water readily available on Abaco because of storm surges flooding wells,” spokesman Matthew Cochrane told the BBC.
He said that aid workers were expecting “significant humanitarian needs” in the Bahamas once the storm passes. (Source bbc)