TITUSVILLE, Fla. (Reuters) - Hurricane Dorian intensified into a dangerous category 5 storm as it approached the Bahamas on Sunday, expected to pound the islands with up to two days of torrential rain, high waves and damaging winds before taking aim at the U.S. mainland.

Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis begged residents of Abaco and Grand Bahamas to head for the main island to escape the “devastating, dangerous” storm.

“I want you to remember: homes, houses, structures can be replaced. Lives cannot be replaced,” he told a news conference on Saturday, adding that 73,000 people and 21,000 homes were at risk to storm surges, which are predicted to reach up to 20 feet (6.1 meters).

The Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Dorian was packing maximum sustained winds of 160 miles per hour (260 km per hour) early on Sunday and was about 35 miles (55 km) east of Abaco.

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