Bahamian officials have defended their response to Hurricane Dorian after it devastated parts of the island chain last week, killing at least 45 people.

Residents on the Abaco Islands have accused the government of failing to provide assistance and prevent looting.

Officials have denied covering up the number of deaths. The toll is likely to rise as hundreds, possibly thousands, of people are still missing.

Some 70,000 people were in need of food and shelter, the United Nations said.

Thousands of residents from the hardest-hit areas in the Abacos have been sent to the country’s capital, Nassau, where authorities say they may have to use tents or containers to house the victims.

Health Minister Duane Sands dismissed allegations that the government was covering up the number of victims, saying the priority was not to count the dead but to search for the missing and provide assistance to those in need, according to the Miami Herald newspaper.


Hardly anyone here

The BBC’s Mat Morrison on the Abaco Islands

Locals here warn us that there are more bodies buried beneath the rubble in Marsh Harbour, especially in the shanty towns known as the Mudd and Pigeon Peas.

They wonder why officials haven’t come to retrieve all those who perished during Hurricane Dorian. As you walk around the town, there is very little in terms of any official presence. In fact, there’s hardly anyone at all – just a scattering of locals looking through what once was their homes, or rummaging for food or supplies.

On the hood of a car in one of the worst-hit areas lies the corpse of a large dog, untouched since the storm. Its presence speaks to the lack of attention this area has received in the week since Dorian hit this island.


‘No food, no medicine, no water’

In Marsh Harbour, where 90% of infrastructure is damaged or destroyed, residents complained that aid had been too slow to arrive.

“We’ve had to funnel gasoline out of destroyed cars to get injured people back and forth. There’s no food, no medicine and no water,” said 37-year-old Tepeto Davis. “We’re suffering out here and no-one cares about us.”