Rescuers have begun to reach areas of the northern Bahamas devastated by Hurricane Dorian, with aerial images showing a trail of destruction.
PM Hubert Minnis said some areas had been “decimated” and expected the current death toll of seven would rise.
The hurricane winds that hit the Abaco Islands equalled the highest ever recorded at landfall, and Grand Bahama also suffered severe damage and floods.
Dorian has moved off north but still threatens the eastern US seaboard.
Minnis confirmed the death toll had risen from five to seven, but added: “We can expect more deaths to be recorded. This is just preliminary information.”
It was “one of the greatest national crises in our country’s history”, he said.
Lia Head-Rigby, who runs a relief group and overflew the Abacos, said her representatives had told her there were “a lot more dead”.
“It’s total devastation. It’s decimated. Apocalyptic,” she told the Associated Press news agency.
Aerial images over the Abacos showed mile upon mile of destruction, with roofs torn off, scattered debris, overturned cars, shipping containers and boats, and high water levels.
Opposition leader Philip Brave Davis described the scenes from a flight over the islands as a “horrible sight”.
Parts of the Bahamas received up to 35in (89cm) of rain.
The situation on Grand Bahama is less clear, as Dorian only moved on late on Tuesday after nearly two days of pummelling, cutting many communication lines.