Officials expect more dead as rescuers probe Florida hurricane debris

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The concern was for people who ignored evacuation orders ahead of the storm - which grew with surprising speed from a tropical storm into an extremely powerful hurricane in less than two days - and who stayed put in communities that were demolished by Michael's assault on Wednesday. "We still haven't gotten into some of the hardest-hit areas".

FEMA crews have used heavy equipment, sniffer dogs, drone aircraft and global positioning satellites in their search.

Michael charged ashore on Wednesday near the small Florida Panhandle town of Mexico Beach as one of the most powerful storms in USA history, with top sustained winds of 155 miles per hour (250 km per hour).

"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. It pushed a wall of seawater inland and caused widespread flooding.

Entire beaches are gone, swallowed by the Gulf of Mexico. There have been high winds, downed trees, and streets inundated by rising waters in Virginia and neighbouring North Carolina. A firefighter also was killed when hit by a truck as he was trying to help an accident victim, the Washington Post reported.

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An 11-year-old girl in Georgia died when Michael's winds dropped debris through the roof of her grandparents' home.

Over 1.4 million homes had no power in Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Virginia and the Carolinas on Friday morning.

It could be weeks before power is restored to the most damaged parts of Florida. "If we're going to rebuild, do it right".

Numerous injured in Florida were taken to Panama City, 20 miles (32 km) northwest of Mexico Beach.

Hurricane Michael was expected to dump up to 7 inches of rain in parts of North Carolina and Virginia, the National Hurricane Centre said.

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