Hurricane Michael destroys Florida Panhandle towns

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Waves crash on stilt houses along the shore due to Hurricane Michael at Alligator Point in Franklin County, Florida, U.S., October 10, 2018. Reuters

MEXICO BEACH (Reuters) –Dozens of people remain missing in Florida Panhandle communities reduced to ruins by Hurricane Michael as rescuers said they expected the death toll to rise and survivors grappled with power outages and shortages of food and water.

Already 18 deaths in four states have been blamed on the hurricane as rescue crews using cadaver dogs and heavy equipment searched through collapsed homes in small towns for more victims.

Mexico Beach Mayor Al Cathey told ABC News that 46 people out of the town of some 1,000 remained missing or unaccounted for as of Sunday

Florida Governor Rick Scott, touring the devastated areas by helicopter with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)officials, said the top priority remained search and rescue efforts.

In Panama City, one of the hardest-hit communities, Fire Chief Alex Baird said search and rescue teams were now in “recovery mode” after largely giving up hope of finding any more survivors.

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