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Sunday 31 August 2014

Five dead as US storms cut power

Published 09/07/2014 | 11:43

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Storms in the eastern US have left five people dead, officials say (AP)

Power is slowly being restored in a number of eastern states in the US after severe thunderstorms left five people dead.

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The storms carried strong winds and swept through the region, destroying or damaging numerous houses and leaving more than 200,000 without electricity.

In the rural New York town of Smithfield, between Syracuse and Utica, four people were killed and at least four homes destroyed.

In Maryland, a child at a summer camp was killed by a falling tree.

In central and northern New York state, more than 56,000 customers are still without power, down from nearly 72,000.

In Pennsylvania, about 123,000 are without electricity, down from 300,000. In New Jersey, nearly 15,000 homes and businesses are without power.

The storms spawned three small tornadoes in Ohio. The National Weather Service confirmed that a tornado destroyed the homes in Smithfield.

Barbara Watson, the meteorologist leading the agency's survey team, said the violent winds yesterday had to be at least 100 mph and above to cause the damage she has seen.

She said one two-story home is gone, the structure blown away leaving only the foundation.

Madison County Sheriff Allen Riley said the home was blown hundreds of feet before it landed on an unoccupied house.

He identified the victims as a 35-year-old woman and her four-month-old daughter, a 70-year-old woman and a 53-year-old man.

Mr Riley said late last night that search dogs were being used to go over the rubble at the Smithfield site and that neighbours were being interviewed.

"We're just picking up parts of the house to see if anybody is underneath them," he said.

The Maryland child's death came at River Valley Ranch camp in Manchester when a tree fell during a strong thunderstorm. Six other children, on their way to a shelter, were hurt.

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