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Hurricane Maria left medical facilities on Dominica "worse than in a war zone," according to the country's leader.
The Caribbean island's main hospital has been without power since the Category 5 storm hit late Monday, killing at least 15 and injuring many others.
Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said the facility's intensive care unit had been destroyed and dialysis machines were down. The backup generator at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Roseau, which is located on the southwest coast of Dominica, was also flooded during the storm.
"It's worse than in a war zone," Skerrit said in a live broadcast from Antigua on Thursday. "Everything has to be manual."
He appealed for nearby countries to provide helicopters to help airlift critically injured patients off the island, which is home to around 72,000 people.
"People were hiding in the kitchen cupboards to survive"
Skerrit said it was a “miracle” more people did not die given the “unprecedented destruction.”
“Every village, every street, every cranny, every person in Dominica was impacted by the hurricane,” he added.
Many parts of the island have not been surveyed yet and the death toll is expected to rise.
Skerrit said some residents who didn't move to shelters had tried to ride out their storm in their basements. When Hurricane Maria arrived, flooding forced some people to return upstairs.
“People were hiding in the kitchen cupboards to survive,” Skerrit said. “They were out during the highest winds, exposed to the hurricane, with nowhere to run.”
In addition to the island-wide lack of electricity, he said many communities remained without drinking water or basic necessities.
Communication services are also very limited, leaving many families in the dark about the fate of their loved ones.
The State Department was arranging boat evacuations for American citizens wishing to leave Dominica on Friday.
Skerrit, who was due to address the U.N. General Assembly on Saturday, said his country was "going to need all the help the world can offer."
"It will take us a very long time to bounce back," he added.