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Image source NASA Earth Observatory

At least 17 deaths have been confirmed so far in a swath of Hurricane Michael’s destruction stretching up to Virginia.

Rescuers have still to search the worst-affected areas of Florida’s flattened Mexico Beach.

Michael, one of the most powerful hurricanes in US history, struck on October 10 with 155mph winds.

So far at least 8 people are confirmed dead in Florida, 5 in Virginia, 3 in North Carolina and one in Georgia.

Rescuers using heavy machinery and trained dogs found the body of a man, the latest reported fatality, while searching through rubble on October 12 in Mexico Beach.

However, Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), said the number of deaths was expected to rise as teams combed through badly hit areas in Mexico Beach, Port St. Joe and Panama City.


Residents of Mexico Beach had been under a mandatory evacuation order, but it is believed at least 285 people among a population of 1,000 had stayed behind to ride out the storm.

Hurricane Michael Hits Florida Killing at Least Two People

Florida Senator Marco Rubio said: “You hope that somehow at the last minute a bunch of people got up and left or went somewhere else.”

Hundreds of people are still unaccounted for across the area, but this may simply reflect an inability to communicate with relatives, with mobile phone coverage out in many areas.

Florida Governor Rick Scott said as he visited Mexico Beach on October 12: “It’s like a bomb went off. It’s like a war zone.”

The governor said more than 1,700 rescue workers had been deployed.

Mexico Beach Mayor Al Cathey said: “When you walk down and see this… your emotions run away. This is just a small unique coastal community.”

Many homes on the affected Florida coastline suffered storm surges of 12-14ft.

The residents of Mexico Beach, those who stayed and those who evacuated and have now returned, were simply trying to come to terms with the destruction.

Thousands of people were still in emergency centers on October 12.

Distribution centers have begun to spring up, but many residents remain desperate for basic services. Long lines had formed in some areas for fuel, food and water.

There are fears of unrest in poorer areas of affected towns and cities. Military personnel could be seen guarding one store in Panama City.

A spokesman for the Tyndall Air Force Base told the 3,600 men and women stationed there not to come back following their mandatory evacuation, with runways and buildings devastated.

At least 33 of its 55 F-22 stealth fighters, which each cost $339 million, had been flown out ahead of the storm.

The air force said some planes remained for maintenance reasons, although it would not confirm the number or type. A spokesman said damage was likely but had still to be assessed.

Hundreds of thousands of people remain without power in Florida, Georgia and Virginia, and in some parts it could be weeks before it is fully restored.

An insurance company, Karen Clark & Company, estimated Hurricane Michael caused about $8 billion of damage.

Michael is now a storm-force post-tropical low and is well out into the Atlantic Ocean, heading towards the Bay of Biscay.