Hurricane Dorian brought 'extreme destruction' to the Bahamas today as the Category 5 storm crawled over the islands, moving westwards at just 1mph, while the U.S. southeast coast braces for impact.
Bringing gusts of 225mph and up to 30 inches of rainfall, the hurricane wrecked 13,000 homes, tore down power lines and left Grand Bahama International Airport in Freeport under five feet of water on Monday morning.
A seven-year-old boy is believed to have drowned and today the Bahamian government highlighted chilling reports of bodies floating in the wreckage.
The island of Grand Bahama was hit the hardest today as Dorian almost came to a stop overhead. Experts have also warned of a possible storm surge that could send destructive waves crashing into the coast.
Dorian is the second-strongest Atlantic storm on record, and the joint-strongest ever to make landfall, after it barreled into the Bahamas with wind speeds of 185mph on Sunday.
The storm weakened slightly today but remained a Category 4 hurricane, the second-highest level, with sustained speeds of 155mph on Monday morning.
As of Monday afternoon the storm is located 30 miles northeast of Freeport and 110miles east of West Palm Beach, Florida.
It is expected to move towards the U.S. later today, with hundreds of thousands of coastal dwellers fleeing their homes in Georgia, Florida and South Carolina amid warnings of 'life-threatening' weather conditions.
The U.S. seaboard is not currently forecast to take a direct hit, but experts say the storm will come 'dangerously close' and even a glancing blow could bring torrential rain and destructive winds.
In addition, Dorian could yet veer off course and hit the mainland, with Orlando and even Walt Disney World potentially under threat if the path of the storm changes. Florida may also face a tornado.
'This storm at this magnitude could really cause massive destruction. Do not put your life in jeopardy by staying behind when you have a chance to get out,' warned Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
Strong winds and rain hitting the Bahamas this morning as the hurricane lingered over Grand Bahama, moving westward at just 1mph
Strong winds batter Oceanhill Boulevard in Freeport, as Hurricane Dorian passes over Grand Bahama Island this morning
Wreckage: Houses and trees are battered by the wind and rain of Hurricane Dorian as it passes over Freeport on the island of Grand Bahama today
A digger is deployed to help people evacuate from the wreckage of Storm Dorian as it lingered over the Bahamas this morning
One person caught up in the hurricane called for 'prayers' saying that they were 'stuck' in the aftermath of the storm
The path of Hurricane Dorian: This map shows the storm reaching Category 5 as it pounded into the Bahamas overnight. Residents on the eastern seaboard of the United States have been warned it will remain 'extremely dangerous'
This satellite image shows Hurricane Dorian on Sunday afternoon with the islands of the Bahamas marked
A map showing the path and possible wind speeds of Hurricane Dorian which is expected to move up the Atlantic coast
This diagram shows the position of the hurricane on Monday morning, perilously close to the Florida coast
Today the hurricane was pounding at the northern Bahamas in a slow, relentless advance, leaving wrecked homes, shredded roofs, tumbled cars and toppled power poles in its wake.
Bahamian foreign minister Darren Henfield said: 'We have reports of casualties. We have reports of bodies being seen.
'We cannot confirm those reports until we go out and have a look for ourselves.'
The country's Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said the 'devastation is unprecedented'. Residents were urged to 'bunker down'.
The storm was crawling westward at just 1mph today, giving no respite to the Bahamas as it continues to lash the islands with destructive winds.
Information began emerging from the affected islands, with Bahamas Power and Light saying there is a total blackout in New Providence, the archipelago's most populous island.
Most people went to shelters as the Category 5 storm approached, with tourist hotels shutting down and residents boarded up their homes. But many people were expected to be left homeless.
Capsized boats floated in muddy brown water dotted with wooden boards, tree branches and other debris.
'These hazards will continue over Grand Bahama Island during most of the day, causing extreme destruction on the island,' the National Hurricane Center said today.
Calling it a 'life-threatening situation', the agency warned of 'catastrophic storm surge flooding' on Grand Bahama, urging residents to stay indoors.
'Residents on Grand Bahama Island should not leave their shelter when the eye passes over, as winds will rapidly increase on the other side of the eye,' they said.
The NHC also warned of 'storm surge 18 to 23 feet above normal tide levels with higher destructive waves.'
'These hazards will cause extreme destruction in the affected areas and will continue for several hours,' the agency said.
Up to 30 inches of rain are expected and Grand Bahama International Airport was said to be under five feet of water in the early hours of Monday.
Prime Minister Minnis broke down in tears as he addressed a news conference, calling it 'probably the most sad and worst day of my life.'
'We're facing a hurricane... one that we've never seen in the history of the Bahamas,' he said.
The hurricane made its first landfall on the Abaco Islands on Sunday afternoon, causing 'catastrophic conditions' were with a storm surge of 18-23 feet, and Dorian was expected to cross Grand Bahama 'with all its fury'.
Dorian first came ashore Sunday at Elbow Cay in Abaco island at 12.40pm, then made a second landfall near Marsh Harbour at 2pm.
In parts of Abaco 'you cannot tell the difference as to the beginning of the street versus where the ocean begins', said Prime Minister Minnis.
Seven-year-old Lachino Mcintosh became the first victim of the hurricane when he drowned near his family's home in Abaco, according to Bahamas Press.
The young boy is reported to have drowned while his family was trying to seek shelter. Mcintosh's sister, whose age is unknown, is also reported to be missing.
Hurricane Dorian is crawling across the North Bahamas. It is forecast to continue to lash Grand Bahama as it moves closer to the US.