Sun | Nov 18, 2018

Hurricane Michael blamed for 16 deaths in Florida

Published:Wednesday | October 17, 2018 | 9:37 AM
Shawn Gehlert is reflected in a message displayed on a window of his motel room, Tuesday, October 16, 2018, in Panama City, Florida., where survivors continue to live amid the damage from Hurricane Michael. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

PANAMA CITY, Florida. (AP) — Hurricane Michael killed at least 16 people in Florida, most of them in the coastal county that took a direct hit from the storm, state emergency authorities said Tuesday.

That’s in addition to at least 10 deaths elsewhere across the South.

The scope of the storm’s fury became clearer after nearly a week of missing-persons reports and desperate searches of the Florida Panhandle neighbourhoods devastated by the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental U.S. in nearly 50 years.

The count of 16 dead was twice the number previously tallied by The Associated Press.

Emergency authorities said 12 of the deaths were in Bay County, where the storm slammed ashore with 155 miles per hour winds and towering storm surge last Wednesday.

Bay County includes Mexico Beach, the ground-zero town of 1,000 people that was nearly obliterated, as well as Tyndall Air Force Base, Panama City, and Lynn Haven, all of which were heavily damaged.

Florida emergency authorities gave no details on how the victims died.

The AP’s tally also includes 10 deaths in Virginia, Georgia and North Carolina.

Mexico Beach Mayor Al Cathey said two deaths were confirmed in his town, a man and a woman who did not evacuate and whose homes were destroyed.

Nearly 137,000 Florida customers remain without power in an 11-county region that stretches from the Gulf of Mexico to the Georgia border, according to information compiled by state emergency management officials.

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