Hundreds of victims are to be deplored in Florida

AA / Washington / Michael Hernandez

Hundreds of people are believed to have died in Florida after devastating tropical storm Ian reached the strength of a Category 4 hurricane when it made landfall on Thursday.

Catastrophic damage has been recorded across much of southwest Florida, where some 2.6 million people are still without power while thousands more remain stranded.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has drawn a dire toll, saying Ian has devastated critical infrastructure and homes, which means huge work to rebuild the state.

“The damage was historic, and these are just the first assessments,” the governor said at a news conference.

And to add: “We have never seen a flood like this. We have never seen a storm of this magnitude, and it hit a densely populated area head-on.”

Ian has reached the Atlantic Ocean and is getting stronger again. According to the National Weather Service, experts are warning that a hurricane will make landfall in South Carolina on Friday. A hurricane warning has been issued for the entire Southern State coastline.

The sheriff in Lee County, Florida, home to Fort Meyers and Cape Coral, said he was ‘certain’ the death toll would be in the hundreds as authorities continue to push to reach the people stranded by the devastation caused by Ian.

“There are thousands of people waiting to be rescued,” Carmine Marceno told ABC News’ Good Morning America program, adding, “We can’t get to people. That’s the problem.”

Marceno then confirmed to CNN that officials have so far confirmed five deaths.

US President Joe Biden declared a “state of natural disaster” at DeSantis’ request, releasing an additional federal envelope to help the state get back on its feet.

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In a telephone interview with the governor, Joe Biden said Thursday that Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Deanne Criswell would be visiting Florida on Friday “to provide an update on relief operations and determine if further assistance is required”.

“The President and the Governor have agreed to maintain close coordination,” the White House said in a statement.

*Translated from English by Mourad Belhaj

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