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Authorities Fear Many Casualties After Hurricane Charley Rages Across Florida - 2004-08-14

Local reports from storm-battered Florida say authorities fear many casualties from Hurricane Charley.

So far, there are two confirmed deaths in the state, but officials in one western Florida county describe the devastation as "catastrophic."

Hundreds of people are still unaccounted for, and emergency crews are going door to door searching for survivors. President Bush has declared several counties disaster areas and National Guard units have been dispatched.

The unexpectedly powerful storm hit Florida with winds that reached nearly 290 kilometers per hour. Some estimates of storm-related property damage range up to $15 billion.

The hurricane has significantly weakened as it heads north along the South Carolina coast. Its maximum wind speed is now measured at 135 kilometers per hour.