Hur­ri­cane death toll hits 17, say of­fi­cials

Gulf Times - - AMERICAS -

Three days af­ter the dev­as­tat­ing pas­sage of Hur­ri­cane Michael, search teams in Florida pressed their hunt for vic­tims into hard-to-reach ar­eas yes­ter­day, as the death toll rose to 17 and of­fi­cials scram­bled to de­liver aid to those who lost ev­ery­thing. The mam­moth storm, which made land­fall as a Cat­e­gory 4 storm on Wed­nes­day, claimed lives in four states, but the Sun­shine State suf­fered the worst dam­age by far. Large parts of the state’s pan­han­dle were pul­verised by the strong winds and rain, and eight storm-re­lated deaths have been re­ported in Florida so far. “Mex­ico Beach is dev­as­tated,” Gov­er­nor Rick Scott said of the town hard­est hit by the hur­ri­cane, the most pow­er­ful to hit the US in decades. “It’s like a war zone,” he said while tour­ing the town of 1,000 peo­ple on the Gulf of Mex­ico. Res­cue teams with snif­fer dogs were search­ing for pos­si­ble vic­tims buried un­der the rub­ble in the de­bris-strewn com­mu­nity. US me­dia have re­ported one death in the town – the body of an el­derly man was found hun­dreds of me­tres from his home. Brock Long, head of the Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency (FEMA), warned that the death toll could yet 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. As som­bre res­i­dents be­gan mak­ing it back to their homes, of­fi­cials said it could take 10 days to com­pile a fi­nal dam­age es­ti­mate. Be­yond Florida, five storm-re­lated deaths were re­ported in Vir­ginia. One died in Ge­or­gia and three more were killed in North Carolina.

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