HURRICANE MICHAEL DEATH TOLL: 17
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. “It’s like a war zone.” 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. US media later reported one death in the town -- an elderly man found alone, according to Mayor Al Cathey. Officials said his body was found hundreds of yards from his home. 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.