NASSAU, Bahamas, Oct. 6, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has given the all clear for the islands in the southeast Bahamas including Inagua, Ragged Island, Mayaguana, Acklins, Crooked Island, Long Cay and Samana Cay. Officials at the NEMA said there have been no reports of major damage or injuries on those islands.
On Long Island, which is still under a hurricane warning, there are reports of minor damage with some power lines down. However, phone lines and water are on.
Residents on New Providence, Andros, the Berry Islands, Grand Bahama, Bimini, Abaco, Rum Cay, San Salvador, Cat Island and Eleuthera are bracing for the storm.
There are over 3,000 visitors on New Providence, 74 on Grand Bahama and 379 throughout the family islands. All visitors in the country are accounted for.
Airports in The Bahamas closed on Tuesday and Wednesday and with some expected to open on Saturday.
Fifteen flights left the Lynden Pindling International airport before it closed on Wednesday. Twenty-two flights were canceled. Cruise ships canceled scheduled calls to The Bahamas due to the storm.
As of 8 a.m. Thursday, October 6 Hurricane Matthew, a category 3 storm, was located 30 miles south-southwest of New Providence and 89 miles south-southeast of Great Harbour Cay, Berry Islands. At 11a.m. Hurricane Matthew was upgraded to a category 4 storm.
Hurricane Matthew, packing winds of 125 miles per hour, is moving northwest at 12 miles per hour and is expected to continue on its path throughout the day. On this present track, the eye of Hurricane Matthew should pass near or over Fresh Creek, Andros around 9 a.m. this morning and over Nicholl's Town and Morgan's Bluff between 11 a.m. and noon today.
Residents along eastern Andros from Behring Point to Morgan's Bluff are strongly advised not to go outdoors during this brief lull as the worst is yet to come. The eye will then pass west of the Berry Islands and West End Grand Bahama later today, and move very close to the east coast of the Florida peninsula tonight through Friday night.
According to the Department of Meteorology, the most intense portion of the storm's eye wall will begin passing over New Providence after 9 a.m. and will last for a two to three hours. New Providence should see hurricane force winds subside around 1 p.m.
The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism activated its Emergency Coordinating Committee at the British Colonial Hilton in Nassau, in preparation for Hurricane Matthew and is keeping up to date with the latest information on the storm. The committee represents a cross-section of The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism that includes senior management and other officers who will monitor the storm's movements.
BMOT's crisis management team is liaising with NEMA, Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA), Nassau Airport Development Company, the Port Authority and other relevant authorities.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone in the archipelago as this storm moves over the islands of The Bahamas," Director General in the Ministry of Tourism Joy Jibrilu said. "We are praying for the best outcome and will being assisting in the recovery effort as soon as the all clear is given."
The BMOT is maintaining contact with all of its offices, representatives and visitors in the family of islands as Hurricane Matthew passes. The Islands of The Bahamas will be releasing updates on the tracking of Hurricane Matthew on Bahamas.com/storms and anyone wishing to reach tourism can call the command center at 242-302-9074.
For donations, NEMA can be reached on their Facebook page or at 242-322-6731 and The Bahamas Red Cross can be reached at bahamasredcross.com or 242-323-7370.
For more information on Hurricane Matthew, and The Islands Of The Bahamas, travel professionals and consumers are advised to access the following: The National Hurricane Center at nhc.ncoaa.gov and the Weather Channel at www.weather.com.
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Source:Bahamas Ministry of Tourism