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21 Dead in Ian's Wake; More Bodies Sighted but Not Yet Recovered

Destruction caused by Ian in Fort Myers
The Florida Channel
Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie

Friday - September 30, 2022: The Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management reports that at least 21 people have died in the wake of Hurricane Ian.

At a news conference in Tallahassee Friday morning Director Kevin Guthrie said only 1 of the reported deaths is confirmed and the other 20 are unconfirmed.

What that means, he said, is that a medical examiner has confirmed that one person has died as a result of the Hurricane Ian. 20 other people have also died but a medical examiner has not yet confirmed that the storm caused their deaths.

"People die in disasters that have nothing to do with the disaster," said Guthrie. "The Medical Examiner is the one that makes that determination."

However, Guthrie said that a number of bodies were seen by a Coast Guard rescue swimmer in a home in Lee County which have not yet been recovered.

"The water was up over the rooftop," said Guthrie. The rescue swimmer said "there appeared to be human remains but "we do not know exactly how many were in the house."

Guthrie added that there are a number of other homes in the area "where we had that particular type (of) situation" as well.

Special equipment is needed, said Guthrie, to recover the bodies.

"We have identified a situation, for sure, that we know we got something in, but until the water recedes and we get the special equipment in, we gotta have the special equipment to get in there."

He called it a hackney emergency truck, and said is being mounted on a 20 by 40 spud barge which then will be maneuvered into the flooded areas where they can begin the kind of specialized recover work from those flooded structures.

"Once we get to that point then we can probably give you some better numbers," said Guthrie, "but where we're at today is, 21, 1 confirmed, 20 unconfirmed."

The reported deaths are in the following counties:

* Lee County: Multiple deaths reported in Lee County but not yet verified

* Charlotte County: 12 unconfirmed fatalities in Charlotte County

* Collier County: 8 unconfirmed fatalities in Collier County

* Polk County: 1 confirmed fatality in Polk County in Central Florida.