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Monday 19 February 2018

Six dead in Texas as heavy rain sparks severe floods

A flooded street in Spring, Texas, after the state was hit by heavy rain (AP)
A flooded street in Spring, Texas, after the state was hit by heavy rain (AP)

Authorities in central Texas have found two more bodies along flooded streams, bringing the death toll from severe weather in the state to six.

It is unclear whether a body found in Travis County near Austin is one of the two people still missing in Texas, while an 11-year-old boy remains missing in central Kansas.

The latest flooding victim identified by authorities was a woman who died when the car she was in was swept from the street by the flooded Cypress Creek at about 1.30am local time on Sunday, Kendall County sheriff's Cpl Reid Daly said.

The car, with three occupants, was in Comfort, about 45 miles north of San Antonio.

The driver made it to shore and a female passenger was rescued from a tree. But Mr Daly said 23-year-old Florida Molima was missing until her body was found several hours later eight miles downstream.

She becomes the sixth flood-related death in Texas this Memorial Day weekend.

In Bandera, about 45 miles north-west of San Antonio, an estimated 10 inches of rain overnight led to the rescues of nine people.

The rain caused widespread damage, with photos from the area showing campers and trailers stacked against each other.

Torrential rains have caused heavy flash flooding in some parts of the US over the last few days, and led to numerous evacuations in south-east Texas, including two prisons.

But the threat of severe weather has lessened over the long Memorial Day holiday for many places, though Tropical Depression Bonnie continues to bring rain and wind to North and South Carolina.

Near Austin, a crew aboard a county Star Flight helicopter found a body on Sunday on the north end of a retention pond near the Circuit of the Americas racing track, which is close to where two people were reported to have been washed away by a flash flood early on Friday.

The body is yet to be recovered and no identification has been made.

To the south-east along the rain-swollen Brazos River near Houston, prison officials evacuated about 2,600 inmates from two prisons to other state jails because of expected flooding. Inmates in a low-level security camp at a third prison in the area were being moved to the main prison building.

All three prisons are in coastal Brazoria County, where the river empties into the Gulf of Mexico.

In Kansas, the search for the missing 11-year-old continued on Sunday and was expanded beyond the swollen creek he fell into on Friday night.

Wichita Fire Department battalion chief Scott Brown said: "We are more in body-recovery mode than rescue."

Four people died from flooding in rural Washington County, Texas, located between Austin and Houston, where more than 16.5 inches of rain fell in some places on Thursday and Friday.

Tropical Depression Bonnie, meanwhile, reached the South Carolina coast early on Sunday, bringing heavy rain and rough tides to an area packed with tourists for the Memorial Day weekend.

Forecasters say up to right inches of rain have fallen in parts of southern South Carolina, while about three inches of rain fell in Charleston in 24 hours and more is expected.

Press Association

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