Hur­ri­cane Michael death toll hits 17

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - - HTNATION - Agence France­presse

MEX­ICO BEACH (UNITED STATES): The death toll from Hur­ri­cane Michael has risen to at least 17 with fears it would con­tinue to climb Satur­day as search-and-res­cue teams scour the de­bris of the Florida town that bore the brunt of the mon­ster storm.

“Mex­ico Beach is dev­as­tated,” Florida Gov­er­nor Rick Scott said of the town where Michael made land­fall as a Cat­e­gory 4 storm on Wed­nes­day. “It’s like a bomb went off,” Scott said as he toured the town of 1,000 peo­ple on the Gulf of Mex­ico.

Res­cue teams were us­ing snif­fer dogs in Mex­ico Beach on Fri­day to search for vic­tims who may be buried un­der the rub­ble in the de­bris-strewn com­mu­nity.

Brock Long, head of the Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency (FEMA), warned that he ex­pected the toll to rise.

“I hope we don’t see it climb dra­mat­i­cally but I have rea­sons to be­lieve we still haven’t got into some of the hard­est hit ar­eas,” he said.

Dozens of struc­tures in Mex­ico Beach — homes, shops and restau­rants — were lifted off their foun­da­tions by storm surge and 155 miles per hour (250 kph) winds and moved hun­dreds of feet in­land or smashed to bits.

“Very few peo­ple live to tell what it’s like to ex­pe­ri­ence storm surge,” Long said. “Storm surge causes the most amount of loss of life.”

State of­fi­cials said Mex­ico Beach was un­der manda­tory evac­u­a­tion or­ders but some res­i­dents de­cided to stay and try to ride out the storm. “You hope that some­how at the last minute a bunch of peo­ple got up and left or went some­where else,” Florida Sen­a­tor Marco Ru­bio told CNN.

BLOOMBERG

De­bris and rub­ble are seen on a street af­ter Hur­ri­cane Michael hit Mex­ico Beach, Florida.

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