Hurricane Michael: Death toll rises to 27, hundreds missing in Florida

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Upto 27 people have been proclaimed dead and hundreds missing after Hurricane Michael touched down a week earlier in Florida, Reuters reported. Phone service and roads are currently being restored, with impending fear of rising death toll once connectivity gets back on track.

Hurricane Michael had been reported as a Category-4 hurricane, downgraded to Category- 1 nine hours after it made its landfall.

It intensified rapidly over the Gulf of Mexico after awhile.

The maximum sustained winds were recorded at 250km/h and considered as one of the most intense hurricanes to ever hit the US mainland, and the most powerful one on record to menace the Panhandle.

Matthew Marchetti, co-founder of Houston-based CrowdSource Rescue, which had hundreds of volunteers on the ground, was quoted by Reuters as having said that teams from the volunteer organization were searching for more than 1,135 people in Florida who lost contact with friends and family.

The death toll includes 17 in Florida, one in Georgia, three in North Carolina and six in Virginia, according to a Reuters tally of official reports.

Officials said medical examiners were determining whether another four deaths in Florida were due to the storm.

The state government is distributing ice, water and about 3 million ready-to-eat meals, Governor Rick Scott’s office said.

Marchetti said the search has been hampered by spotty cell phone coverage in the devastated area, though authorities are making progress in restoring communications.

Many residents have also expressed frustration at the slow pace of recovery of wireless networks.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai on Tuesday called for wireless carriers to waive bills for customers affected by the storm.

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