Hurricane Ian death toll rises above 80, response criticised

The death toll from Hurricane Ian in the southeastern United States has climbed past 80 as some officials face criticism over their response to the storm.

At least 85 storm-related deaths have been confirmed since Ian made landfall on Florida’s Gulf Coast on Wednesday as a Category 4 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 249 kilometres per hour (155 miles per hour).

“I respect their choices,” he said at a press conference. “But I’m sure a lot of them regret it now.”

Deanne Criswell, the Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator, said the federal government planned to unleash a huge amount of aid, focusing its attention on Florida first. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden are due to travel to the state on Wednesday.

Criswell told Fox News Sunday that the federal government, including the Coast Guard and Department of Defense, had moved into position “the largest amount of search and rescue assets that I think we’ve ever put in place before”.

Still, she warned that dangers remain.

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