ATLANTA -- The death toll from the Blizzard of '93 rose to at least 168 yesterday as rescuers from the Gulf of Mexico to the Canadian Maritime Provinces struggled with the aftermath of a storm that has been described as the most severe this century.
Several dramas continued that threatened to push the number of fatalities even higher.
In the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, rescuers searched for 24 students, teachers and parents from the Detroit area, members of a group of 117 taking part in a wilderness survival course. Late yesterday, 93 had been accounted for.
In the frigid waters off Nova Scotia, 32 crew members were missing and one was known dead after a 530-foot freighter sank in 60-foot seas early yesterday.
And in Florida, rescuers continued to search coastal waters for 16 missing mariners.
Cleanup efforts along the tornado-lashed Gulf Coast continued, while south of Miami the National Guard was ordered to help rebuild a tent city that was ripped up by high winds early Saturday. More than 100 people evacuated from the tents were among thousands of residents of southern Florida who lost their homes to Hurricane Andrew in August.
In Washington, President Clinton granted federal disaster relief to 21 Florida counties hit by wind and flooding, and approved emergency aid to help Alabama and Tennessee dig out of the blizzard.
Most major U.S. airports returned to normal operations, and in much of the Northeast, accustomed to winter blasts, the emergency appeared to be over.
It was in the Deep South, unaccustomed to major snow storms at any time of year, especially a week before the official start of spring, that the storm caused the most trouble.
Although the sun was shining and temperatures climbed into the 40s yesterday afternoon, many interstate highways remained impassable.