Hurricane Michael's death count rises after Virginia reports several fatalities

Hurricane Michael's death count rises after Virginia reports several fatalities

President Donald Trump announced plans to visit Florida and hard-hit Georgia early next week but did not say what day he would arrive.

Further details were not immediately available.

Michael was one of the most powerful hurricanes to ever make landfall in the US, and this Gulf Coast community of about 1,000 people was in its bullseye.

The 17 victims comprised eight from Florida, five in Virginia, three in North Carolina, and a child in Georgia.

Cellphone service remained down Friday in some of the areas hit the hardest, with the only lifelines for some being satellite phones carried by news crews.

The seaside community of Mexico Beach, where the storm made landfall, was a flattened wreck.

State officials said Mexico Beach was under mandatory evacuation orders but some residents chose to stay and try to ride out the storm.

Then, as Michael blew through Virginia as a tropical storm, authorities said five people there were killed, including four who drowned and a firefighter whose truck was struck by a tractor-trailer as he responded to an accident in heavy storm conditions.

Rescue teams using sniffer dogs carried out a grim search for victims of Hurricane Michael on Friday amid fears that the death toll from the monster storm - which now stands at 11 - could rise.

Kegs of beer rest among the debris blocking U.S.Highway 98 in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael at Mexico Beach, Florida, U.S., October 12, 2018.

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Search teams used dogs for people killed or trapped in debris, including in hardest-hit Mexico Beach.

Officials said they similarly received inquiries about thousands of people who were missing in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Irma past year as crews fanned out across the Keys to reduce that number. "Thank God we're not seeing that as a critical need", Harris said.

As of Thursday, authorities said that 280 people were missing. Michael's powerful winds and surging seas knocked row after row of Mexico Beach beachfront homes from their foundations.

According to the National Hurricane Center, it could strengthen into a major Category 3 hurricane with winds topping 111 miles per hour before it reaches Florida's Gulf Coast on Wednesday.

As of Thursday evening, more than 900,000 homes and businesses in the country's southeast region had no electricity.

"I lost everything", Morales said.

FEMA's Long urged communities such as Mexico Beach, where many homes were pulverized by 12 to 14 feet (3.7 to 4.3 meters) of storm surge, to rebuild to withstand future storms.

TV station WLOS reported more than 40 roads had to be closed in the county due to flooding and 18 people had to be rescued, including one involving an SUV whose driver "found her vehicle floating" when she tried driving through flood waters.

The National Guard rescued 20 survivors on Wednesday night in Mexico Beach, the Associated Press reported. "People will just pack up and leave".

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