Relatives of THOUSANDS reported missing in Hurricane Michael start desperate search for their loved ones as rescuers pick through the ruins to pull out bodies – with the death toll now at 17 and expected to rise

Saturday, October 13, 2018
By Paul Martin

Hurricane Michael, a Category 4 storm, barreled into Florida with winds of up to 155mph on Wednesday
Michael was downgraded to a Category 1 as it swept north through the Carolinas and Virginia
Michael shattered buildings, brought down power lines and ripped trees as it crashed ashore and caused deep seawater flooding
At least 17 people have been killed in separate incidents, including an 11-year-old
Search teams have also found bodies among the rubble of the buildings as thousands are still missing
More than 500,000 homes and businesses in Florida, Georgia and Alabama have been left without power

By HANNAH PARRY
DAILYMAIL.COM
13 October 2018

The family and friends of the thousands of people still missing after Hurricane Michael are desperately searching for their loved ones as rescue teams discover bodies in the ruins and rubble along the Florida coast.

The death toll rose to 17 on Friday evening after the hurricane – the fourth most powerful to ever hit the US – struck Florida on Wednesday and swept north through the Carolinas and Virginia leaving a trail of devastation in its wake.

Four people died in Gadsden County, Florida, while in Georgia, 11-year-old girl, Sarah Radney, was killed when a piece of metal carport crashed into her family’s trailer and struck her in the head.

There were five deaths in Virginia, four from drowning, including 53-year-old William Lynn Tanksley and 45-year-old James E. King Jr. of Dry Fork, Virginia, who were both killed after being swept away from their vehicles by floodwaters on Thursday.

The fifth was Lt. Brad Clark, a Hanover County firefighter, who was killed while helping at the scene of a car crash Thursday when a tractor-trailer struck his fire engine. Authorities say two others in his crew were seriously injured. The truck driver had to be extricated and also suffered serious injuries.

Searchers found another person dead in the rubble of Mexico Beach, said Joseph Zahralban, Miami’s fire chief and the task force leader of a search and rescue unit. Three additional deaths were reported in Marianna, in Jackson County, Florida, Sheriff Lou Roberts told a news conference on Friday afternoon.

‘I’ve watched on television, thinking of what others have experienced, like in the Carolinas and Texas,’ Mexico Beach Mayor Al Cathey told reporters. ‘But it’s different when you walk down and see this, and your emotions run away. This is just a small unique coastal community.’

The number of fatalities is expected to rise further as rescuers go door to door and comb through the rubble in Mexico Beach and other Florida coastal communities such as Port St. Joe and Panama City.

And authorities fear the death toll will continue to rise as search teams have uncovered a number of bodies in the rubble of the ruined homes and businesses.

Rescue teams using sniffer dogs carried out a grim search for victims on Friday.

Zahralban said that search teams found ‘individuals who are deceased’ among the devastation in Mexico Beach and surrounding Bay County.

Zahralban says teams had also rescued several people from Mexico Beach who found themselves trapped or injured after the storm.

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