Washington: The death toll from last week’s Hurricane Michael, that battered the Florida Panhandle, has been raised to 29, with rescuers still searching for the missing in the hardest-hit areas. Also Read - Hurricane Michael: Storm Strengthens to Category Three
The toll was raised on Tuesday and the casualties were reported from Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia. Of those, 12 were in Florida’s Bay County, one of the hardest-hit regions where the hurricane made landfall last week as a Category 4 storm, CNN reported.
Authorities said that hurricanes as strong as Michael rarely strike the Florida panhandle. Due to its relatively low threat of hurricanes, buildings on the Florida panhandle were built under lower standards than those along the Atlantic coast, adding to the property loss.
Aerial photos taken after the hurricane showed flatten houses stretched miles along the beach.
Authorities fear some people who did not evacuate could be buried beneath piles of concrete, wood and mangled metal in Florida.
The Florida Health Department provided an online form to report those who were still unaccounted for, trapped or in need of help. While the exact number of the missing was not available, more details were expected to emerge as electricity and phone services were being restored across the Panhandle, the report said.
Officials said they were finding more victims as the waters recede, according to CNN affiliate WFLA.
Pile of debris scattered in neighbourhoods was hindering rescue and recovery efforts. Across Bay County, more than 2,500 structures were damaged and at least 162 have been destroyed, authorities said.
Residents in the hardest-hit areas were relying on airdropped food and water to survive. According to initial calculations, nearly 16,000 single family homes were damaged and more than 4,000 were destroyed.
About 1,200 people were in shelters.
Analysts have put the total loss inflicted by Hurricane Michael to be between $15 and 21 billion.