A large and powerful Hurricane Irene roared across the Bahamas archipelago on Wednesday, knocking down trees and destroying homes on a path that officials said posed the greatest threat to the country's smaller, less-populated islands.
There were no immediate reports of major injuries or deaths but property damage appeared likely to be extensive. Acklins and Crooked islands, in the southern part of the chain, got hit particularly hard, with an estimated 90 percent of the homes in two settlements severely damaged or destroyed, said Capt. Stephen Russell, director of the country's National Emergency Management Agency.
Russell said he was getting "disturbing reports" from the two islands, each of which has a population of several hundred, but that he was not yet able to get a full assessment.
Authorities were also expecting major damage on the islands of Rum Cay, Eleuthera and Cat Island, which were all expected to have full and extended exposure to Hurricane Irene's 120 mph (193 kph) winds.
"That can be devastating for some of those islands," Russell said.