Five more deaths in the US were blamed Friday on Hurricane Michael, bringing the new death toll to at least 11, as rescue teams continue combing the Florida Panhandle for victims and people possibly trapped in the rubble.
Michael, a Category-4 hurricane when it hit on Wednesday, flattened several coastal buildings and left infrastructure crippled by downed trees and power lines.
The five most recent deaths attributed to the storm occurred in Virginia, the state’s emergency management authority said, according to news reports. The dead included four who drowned. One death was a firefighter who was responding to an emergency call, Virginia State Police said.
Brock Long, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), told CNN that he expects the number of dead to rise as rescue workers dig their way through debris.
Much of the coastline of the Florida Panhandle was left in ruins. Aerial images of the two coastal towns showed plots of empty land where houses had stood before the storm. Losses could reach 4.5 billion dollars, according to an insurance trade journal.
More than 1.4 million utility customers from Florida to Virginia were without power as of Friday morning, according to a website that tracks outages.
Thousands of National Guard troops and emergency workers are in the region delivering aid and services to the survivors.
The weakened storm, no longer a hurricane, has moved over the Atlantic Ocean, its remnants still lashing north-eastern US states in New England with strong winds and heavy rain.