Hurricane Michael Death Toll Climbs to 16

Hurricane Michael leaves massive destruction in the US

Search and rescue teams combed through shattered U.S. communities on Thursday looking for victims of Hurricane Michael, a Category 4 monster storm which carved out a swathe of destruction in the Florida Panhandle, killing at least six in three states. But he gave no details on the number of dead.

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"There's a pile", McPherson said as they searched for signs of life.

Allender continued with a shaky voice as he continued to describe the current situation in Panama City, saying the damage would only get worse as drivers continued to east.

Long said the storm posed a direct threat to people who ignored warnings and evacuation orders on the coastlines, particularly given the threat of storm surge capable of tearing apart and flattening buildings. Whether any of them got out at some point was unclear.

Officials said more than 400,000 homes and businesses were without electricity in Florida and 20,000 utility workers had been deployed to restore power.

But with mobile phone service out across vast swathes of the Florida Panhandle, officials said it was possible that some of those unaccounted for are safe and just have not been able to contact friends or family to let them know.

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Across the ravaged region, officials set up distribution centres to hand out food and water to victims. Some supplies were brought in by trucks, while others had to be delivered by helicopter because roads had yet to be cleared of debris. This compilation highlights the power of the storm and what residents face in the weeks ahead. "At this time I can't tell you how long that will take, but I'm on it", Laidlaw said.

"I'm very concerned about our citizens that didn't evacuate and I just hope that, you know, we don't have much loss of life", Scott told ABC. Kristen Garcia, 32, and her 90-year-old grandmother, Jadwiga Garcia, were staying in a second-floor beachfront apartment Wednesday as the storm came ashore.

After Michael passed, video drones took the skies over Panama City revealing the extent of the damage.

Picking our way through a mass of rubble and detritus that was once a house, we spot an American flag on the ground; in amongst it all there is also a toy vehicle and a cracked glass plate from a microwave.

Elsewhere, President Donald Trump announced plans to visit Florida and hard-hit Georgia early next week but didn't say what day he would arrive. "And we will do it together", Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum tweeted Thursday night.

Early Friday morning, Michael was dropping rain along the Mid-Atlantic and New England coasts as it moves eastward over the ocean, with sustained winds that have strengthened to 65 miles per hour.

Rescue teams said they had wrapped up their initial rapid searches and had completed 40 percent of more-intense secondary searches including inspecting collapsed buildings.

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"We are not completely done. We are still getting down there", the governor added.

"I think you're going to see it climb", Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said of the death count at a news conference.

Michael, the third-most powerful hurricane ever to hit the USA mainland, weakened overnight to a tropical storm and pushed north-east, bringing drenching rains to Georgia and the Carolinas, which are still recovering from Hurricane Florence last month. While forecasting a storm's path requires broad information on large-scale factors around a storm, such as winds and air pressure, forecasts of intensity require detailed, specific data from the most violent part of a hurricane's interior, not the easiest place to do science.

"We didn't have anything", said Ruth Corley, a spokeswoman for the Bay County Sheriff's Department. Numerous 600 families who live there had followed orders to pack what they could in a single suitcase as they were evacuated ahead of the storm.

A small "ride-out" team that hunkered down as the hurricane's eyewall passed directly overhead ventured out to find almost every building severely damaged, many a complete loss.

The primary school, the flight line, the marina and the runways were devastated.

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