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Two dead, one missing in Bahamas

Wind gusts reached 82 mph as the hurricane passed over Grand Bahama Island Saturday morning.
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2 p.m. Saturday, ET
  • Position of center: About 70 miles (115 km) east of West Palm Beach, Florida
  • Latitude: 26.9 north
  • Longitude: 79 west
  • Top sustained winds: Near 105 mph (168 km/h)
  • Map: Projected path

    Source: Natl. Hurricane Center
    The Bahamas

    FREEPORT, Bahamas (CNN) -- Hurricane Frances pelted the Bahamas on Saturday with torrential rain and winds of more than 100 mph, leaving at least two people dead, another missing and many parts of the flat low-lying area under water, officials said.

    On Grand Bahama, the northernmost island, a 35- to 40-year-old man drowned in a tidal surge on the western edge of the island, said Ellison Greenslade, assistant police commissioner for the Northern Bahamas. He said rescuers have not recovered the body, but workers reported seeing it.

    An 18-year-old Nassau man was electrocuted Friday while trying to start a generator, Greenslade said.

    An 80-year-old man on the western part of the island is missing. He had refused to leave his home, which was later flattened by the storm, police said.

    The storm moved slowly through the 700 islands and keys of the Bahamas late Wednesday ripping off roofs and downing trees, and entered Grand Bahama around mid-afternoon Friday.

    A few hours of calm came Saturday morning but by the afternoon winds had intensified with the back end of the hurricane passing.

    Parts of north and southern Grand Bahama Island, including the airport and the capital of Nassau, were under 6 to 8 feet of water.

    "Things could get worse as the backlash passes over us," Greenslade said.

    Damage assessment has been difficult, the assistant commissioner said because contact with many islands had been lost.

    He said he lost contact with Abaco Island in the north as power lines and phone lines are down. The only electricity in the Bahamas is from private generators, Greenslade said.

    "At the moment, we haven't been able to do any reconnaissance work," he said. "We're relying on people calling in. It's a little premature to speak of damage assessment."

    Authorities were using large trucks and personal watercraft to rescue about 300 people from rooftops, where residents climbed to escape the rising waters. They are being taken to shelters, but even some of those building were experiencing problems.

    A temporary shelter was evacuated Saturday because of rising flood waters.

    The storm may have dumped as much as 20 inches of rain in the northwest Bahamas, the National Weather Service said.

    Frances, a Category 2 hurricane, carried maximum sustained winds of 105 mph, the National Weather Service said.

    In its 2 p.m. advisory, the National Hurricane Center said the storm had barely moved in the past hour and was hovering about 70 miles (115 km) east of West Palm Beach, Florida. (Full story)

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