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Hurricane center updates, Irma death rate in the US, the Caribbean

MIAMI – the death toll from the Hurricane Irma’s catastrophic rampage across the Caribbean and in the south-east of the US has increased to 44 fatalities directly caused by the strong winds and heavy rainfall, plus 85 fatalities indirectly linked to the storm, according to a report released Monday by the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

Eighty of the deaths indirectly linked to the hurricane was in Florida, caused by falls during storm preparations, car accidents, carbon monoxide poisoning from generators, chainsaw, accidents and electrocutions, according to the report.

Fourteen people who died in a Broward County nursing home that lost power and air conditioning after the storm, were included in the tally of indirect mortality in Florida. In an e-mail Monday, officials with Florida’s Division of Emergency Management said they had counted 11 deaths in the nursing home under 84 storm-related deaths in the state. Twelve fatalities in the nursing home are being investigated as murders.

Most of the direct deaths occurred in the Caribbean. The report said that seven happened on the AMERICAN continent: In Florida, two people died when their tent was submerged in freshwater, floods, a man fell into a canal while checking on his boat during the hurricane, and a gust of wind caused a man to fall and hit his head after opening his door during the storm. Falling trees were blamed for two deaths in Georgia and South Carolina.

Hundreds of people were injured before, during or after the hurricane that prompted evacuation orders for nearly 7 million in multiple states, the report said.

Irma made a total of seven landfalls, including four as a Category 5 hurricane. Damage estimates in the Caribbean could top $3 billion, according to the hurricane center.

The damage included the left of the small island of Barbuda, nearly uninhabitable and destroy most of the schools, and severely damaging the only hospital on the island of Anguilla. Irma was the first Category 5 hurricane to hit Cuba in nearly a century, directly caused by nine deaths, damaging tens of thousands of homes and destroying hundreds of poultry farms.

The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association reported last month that the large number of hotels remained closed on the islands immediately blown away by hurricanes Irma and Maria.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has already ranked Irma amongst the top five most expensive hurricanes in U.S. history, causing $50 billion in damage, mostly in Florida.

The damage was the most severe in the Florida Keys, where Irma struck like a Category 4 hurricane, according to the hurricane center in the report. However, the Sound of the huge wind field and heavy rain caused widespread tree and power line damage state, together with substantial losses in the orange groves and the record-breaking floods in Jacksonville.

Irma also spawned 25 tornadoes, according to the report: four in South Carolina and the rest in Florida.

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