The vast container shipping conglomerate behind MSC Cruises is to provide temporary shelters to people left homeless due to the destruction caused by Hurricane Dorian.

MSC Group’s initial efforts will focus on semi-permanent prefabricated modular housing in the areas most affected by the hurricane as well as making ships available for cargo from the US to the Freeport and Marsh Harbour container terminals.

The operation will involve its cargo shipping, cruising and its charitable foundation.

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The latest aid initiative came as the death toll from Hurricane Dorian rose to 23 with fears that numbers could rise at least into the hundreds given the number of people missing across the island nation.

An estimated 76,000 people have been left in need of food and shelter with the International Red Cross estimating that 45% of homes on Grand Bahama and the Abacos – some 13,000 properties – were severely damaged or destroyed.

Dorian hit the Bahamas as a category 5 hurricane with winds reaching 185mph, matching the highest ever recorded at landfall, and stayed over affected areas for two days.

A fleet of ships from various cruise lines have been deployed on aid missions to the islands.

Royal Caribbean ships are to be re-deployed over the next few week to tender outside of Freeport, Bahamas carrying goods and meals. This operation began with Empress of the Seas delivering 10,000 meals and 10,000 bottles of water.

The company is also sending container ships with emergency supplies including 47,000 bottles of water, 362 generators, 250 tarpaulins, 25,000 square feet of plywood, 55,400 nappies and 7,500 pounds of pet food.

Carnival Cruise Line is to divert the ships Carnival Pride and Carnival Liberty next week to deliver food, water and relief supplies in addition to an agreement to run shipments of aid by container ship.

Grand Celebration Bahamas Cruise Line also has a vessel prepared to deliver aid to the islands after an appeal for support was made in Florida.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said in updated travel advice: “The ports and airports in Grand Bahama and Abaco remain closed.

“If you’re planning to travel to affected areas, you should check the viability of your travel plans carefully, including transport and accommodation options.

“Exercise caution, keep up to date with developments and follow the advice and instructions of local authorities.

“If you’ve been affected by the hurricane and need urgent consular assistance, call +1 876 936 0700.

“If you’re in the UK and are concerned about a British national in the Bahamas, call the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London on 020 7008 1500.”

Islands that were not impacted by Hurricane Dorian remain open and are receiving visitors, according to the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism.

These include the Bahamas capital of Nassau and neighboring Paradise Island, as well as Eleuthera, Harbour Island and Andros. Islands in the south-eastern and central Bahamas remain unaffected, including The Exumas, Cat Island, San Salvador, Rum Cay, Long Island, Acklins/Crooked Island, Mayaguana and Inagua.

Tourism and aviation minister Dionisio D’Aguilar said: “There are no words to convey the grief we feel for our fellow Bahamians in The Abacos and Grand Bahama.

“Now is the time to come together for our brothers and sisters in need, and help our country get back on its feet.

“Anyone who wishes to provide relief support should go to for verified ways to help.

“We also implore travellers to continue visiting the Bahamian islands that were not impacted by Hurricane Dorian as this will help our people tremendously.”

His comments came as the Jamaica-based Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre started mobilising resources to assist the Bahamas.

Jamaica tourism minister Edmund Bartlett said: “We have begun the process, from the centre, to reach out to the global tourism community, to mobilise resources to support the effort of bringing back the economies of our neighbour, as well as, to bring tourism resources.

“We are now moving to get in touch with our partners such as major hotels, airlines and all major tour operators who are beneficiaries from tourism and who can in fact provide resource support to enable recovery in countries which are  vulnerable and can be impacted.”

Sandals Resorts International has responded with help through its SRI Foundation.

Deputy chairman Adam Stewart said: “All three of the Sandals properties in the Bahamas have been unaffected which gives us the opportunity to focus on recovery and assisting however we can.

“We are proud to be working with the government of Jamaica and the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre to help our neighbouring island of the Bahamas who parts of which were badly affects by hurricane Dorian.

“The foundation, through the efforts of those who have supported us thus far, donated $10,000 worth of water, as a first gesture to those in Abaco, through our partner the Bahamian non-profit group HeadKnowles. A partner of Sandals has also donated $100,000 worth of cleaning material which we will also be collecting in the next 48 hours.”

MSC Group through its MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company has been present in the region for 20 years as the leading cargo import and export operator in the Bahamas. Its local headquarters are based in Freeport, Grand Bahama.

Gianluigi Aponte, executive chairman and founder of MSC Group, said: “It is heart-breaking to see the impact and devastation that Hurricane Dorian has brought over the Bahamas and its population. The thoughts and prayers of my entire family are with the people of the Bahamas and their families and loved ones.

“As a family company and one that has lived off the sea for over 300 years, we are fully committed to supporting both immediate and longer-term relief and recovery efforts in the Bahamas.

“Our businesses have long been closely tied to the Bahamas and its people, with a rich history spanning over many decades. We now look forward to supporting their efforts to rebuild and recover in every way we can and through all our businesses.”

Carnival Cruise Line president Christine Duffy said: “The devastation of the Bahamsa is truly tragic and heartbreaking and we are keeping them in our thoughts as we continue to offer our support and assistance.”

The US states of North and South Carolina are at risk of dangerous storm surges today before the hurricane moves towards Nova Scotia at the weekend.

MoreBahamas relief appeal opens as death toll rises [Sep 4]

Airlines strive to rebook Orlando passengers [Sep 5]

Orlando theme parks re-open [Sep 5]