Some 2,500 people are still listed as missing in the Bahamas more than a week after Hurricane Dorian pummelled the Caribbean island chain, although that number may include evacuees who fled to shelters, authorities say.
Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Minnis told the nation in a televised address that the death toll from Dorian remained at 50, but conceded that the large number of people missing meant that number would rise.
"The number of deaths is expected to significantly increase," Minnis said, adding the government was being transparent and would provide "timely information on the loss of life as it is available".
Emergency management officials told a separate news conference on Wednesday that the list of missing had not yet been checked against records of evacuees or the thousands of people staying in shelters.
Dorian slammed into the Bahamas on September 1 as a Category 5 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of intensity, one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes on record to make a direct hit on land and packing top sustained winds of almost 300km/h.
"Our sympathies go out to the families of each person who died," Minnis said.
More than 5,000 people evacuated to New Providence, where the capital, Nassau, is located, in the face of the worst hurricane in the country's history, but there has since been a significant reduction in the number now asking to be relocated, emergency management officials say.
Some 15,000 people are still in need of shelter or food, according to the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency.
Officials have already put up large tents in Nassau to house those made homeless by the storm and plan to erect tent cities on Abaco capable of sheltering up to 4,000 people.
Minnis thanked US President Donald Trump and the American people for mobilising support and urged Bahamians to pitch in with relief efforts by volunteering or donating money to legitimate charities.
The White House said on Wednesday the United States would not give temporary protected immigration status to people fleeing the Bahamas after the hurricane.
The status would have allowed Bahamians to live and work in the United States while their country recovers.
Private forecasters estimated that Dorian destroyed or damaged some $US3 billion in insured property in the Bahamas or elsewhere in the Caribbean.
Commercial flights to Abaco, one of the hardest-hit areas, resumed on a limited basis on Wednesday.
Australian Associated Press