Hurricane deaths rise
Search and rescue teams have found at least one body in Mexico Beach, Florida, the ground-zero town nearly obliterated by Hurricane Michael, an official said yesterday as the scale of the storm’s fury became clearer.
The death toll across the South stood at 13, not counting any victims in Mexico Beach.
Miami Fire Chief Joseph Zahralban, leader of a search and rescue unit that went into the flattened town, said: “We have one confirmed deceased and are working to determine if there are others.”
Zahralban spoke as his team was winding down its two-day search of the town of about 1000 people that was nearly wiped off the map when Michael blew ashore on Thursday with devastating 249km/h winds.
As the catastrophic damage across the Florida Panhandle came into view 48 hours later, there was little doubt the death toll would rise.
State officials said 285 people in Mexico Beach had defied mandatory evacuation orders.
Across the ravaged region, authorities set up distribution centres to hand out food and water to victims. Supplies were brought in by trucks and helicopter.
President Donald Trump announced plans to visit Florida and hard-hit Georgia. “We are with you!” he tweeted.