Joaquin upgraded to Category 4 hurricane

  • 04/10/2015
Hurricane Joaquin is seen over the Bahamas from the International Space Station (Reuters)
Hurricane Joaquin is seen over the Bahamas from the International Space Station (Reuters)

Parts of the US southeast are underwater, deluged by Hurricane Joaquin's torrential rains, with forecasters predicting historic flooding for the already waterlogged region.

Joaquin, powerful Category Four storm, brought record-setting rain to the southeastern US after devastating parts of the Bahamas and threatening to do much the same to Bermuda.

News reports have blamed Joaquin for four deaths in the United States since Thursday (local time).

CNN reported that one person was killed by a falling tree in North Carolina. Three others died in weather-related accidents in South Carolina.

Meanwhile, the Bahamas, a low-lying archipelago, has huge areas where homes were destroyed and residents left without power or phone service after the passage of the storm.

"This is my 26th year living here, and I have never seen this before," San Salvador resident Paul Turnquest told The Nassau Guardian.

"This is the worst I've ever seen."

The Bahamas' National Emergency Management Agency was working on damage assessment, and did not immediately have casualty figures.

At least one person was killed on Long Island, Tribune242 reported, as MPs headed out on overflights to survey the damage.

The sprawling Bahamas islands is home to 385,000 people and visited by far more tourists every year - about 1.3 million.

The US east coast - which had had heavy rains in the days leading up to the arrival of Joaquin - avoided a direct hit, but nevertheless suffered heavy rain from outer bands of the powerful, slow-moving storm.

News footage showed pedestrians wading through thigh-high waters in some areas.

Forecasters said Joaquin now is closing in on tiny Bermuda, population of just 66,000 people, where the potential damage could rival what was seen in the Bahamas.

Joaquin has increased its forward speed and its eye should pass west of Bermuda on Sunday, the NHC said in its latest update.

Although Joaquin is now expected to travel far to the east of the United States, "a prolonged period of elevated water levels and large waves will affect the mid-Atlantic region," the NHC said in a statement.

Emergencies were already declared in parts of the US East Coast and residents were evacuated after a powerful rainstorm lashed several states.