Rescue officials losing hope in Florida as search efforts continue

The hunt for missing people in the aftermath of Michael is turning into a search for the dead.

Hope that more people will be found alive is fading in the Florida Panhandle, according to U.S. officials. Authorities say there is little doubt the death toll will rise.

"We're going into recovery mode, unfortunately," said fire Chief Alex Baird of Panama City, one of the coastal Florida  communities clobbered by the hurricane that made landfall Wednesday as a Category 4 storm, packing more than 225 km/h winds and deadly storm surges.
 
"We hope that we'll find more [survivors], but it's more and more doubtful."

The death toll of the storm reached at least 18 Saturday night and is expected to rise in the U.S. Southeast as rescuers go door-to-door in coastal communities in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas.

See drone footage of the destruction caused by Hurricane Michael

Drone footage captures destruction wrought by Hurricane Michael on the Florida town of Mexico Beach, where buildings were reduced to piles of rubble, while roofs, cars and even boats were strewn about the formerly tranquil beach town. 0:45

U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to visit both Florida and Georgia on Monday to inspect the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Michael. 

He will be accompanied by first lady Melania Trump. The White House isn't identifying areas the president will visit.

Rescuers hampered by power outages

Search and rescue volunteers have already located hundreds of people reported missing last week.
 
On Saturday, rescue crews heard cries for help and crowbarred into a mobile home crumpled by the storm in Panama City, freeing a mother and daughter, both diabetics who had been trapped in a closet without insulin for two days and were on the verge of diabetic shock, rescuers said.

Rescue teams used cadaver dogs, drones and heavy equipment to search for people in the rubble.

Rescue officials are losing hope they will find any more survivors alive in the rubble. (Terray Sylvester/Reuters)

The White House said late Saturday that Trump was fully committed to helping state and local agencies with the recovery.

At a campaign rally Saturday in Kentucky, Trump praised individuals involved in the massive recovery effort and pledged that "we will not rest until the job is done." 

More than 1,700 search-and-rescue workers have been deployed, including seven swift-water rescue teams and nearly 300 ambulances, Florida Gov. Rick Scott's office said.
 
Electricity and phone service were being slowly restored, but it could be weeks before power is restored to the most 
damaged areas.

Trump toured parts of the Carolinas last month after Hurricane Florence.

With files from The Associated Press

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