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US: Death toll rises to 13 as Hurricane Florence continues to wreak havoc

The Marines, the Coast Guard, civilian crews and volunteers used helicopters, boats and heavy-duty vehicles on Saturday to rescue scores of people.

SNS | New Delhi |

The death toll from tropical storm Florence that made landfall in the US east coast, has increased to 13, with authorities warning of continued rains and flooding.

Of the 13 victims, nine died on Friday night, while the rest were killed on Saturday, according to the officials.

Florence made landfall Friday morning in North Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane, and it has wiped out power to about 796,000 customers in that state and South Carolina, reports CNN.

Officials warned that the flooding was only just starting.

“The flood danger from this storm is more immediate today than when it made landfall 24 hours ago,” North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said on Saturday.

“We face walls of water at our coasts, along our rivers, across our farmland, in our cities and in our towns.”

“I cannot overstate it: Floodwaters are rising, and if you aren’t watching for them you are risking your life,” he added.

Officials have declared states of emergency in several states, including in the Carolinas, Georgia, Virginia and Maryland, where coastal areas are still recovering from summer storms.

The Marines, the Coast Guard, civilian crews and volunteers used helicopters, boats and heavy-duty vehicles on Saturday to rescue scores of people trapped by Florence’s shoreline onslaught.

More than 2 feet of rain had fallen in places, and the drenching went on and on, with forecasters saying there could be an additional 1 feet by the end of the weekend.

The flash flooding could devastate communities and endanger dams, roads and bridge.

Authorities have ordered the immediate evacuation of up to 7,500 people living within a mile of a stretch of the Cape Fear River and the Little River, about 100 miles in from the coast.

The dead included a mother and baby killed when a tree fell on a house in Wilmington, North Carolina. South Carolina recorded its first death from the storm, with officials saying a 61-year-old woman was killed when her car hit a tree that had fallen across a highway.

Three died in one inland county, Duplin, because of water on roads and flash floods, the sheriff’s office said.

The National Hurricane Center said Florence broke a North Carolina rainfall record that had stood for almost 20 years: Preliminary reports showed Swansboro got over 30 inches and counting, obliterating the mark set in 1999, when Hurricane Floyd dropped just over 24 inches on the state.

(With inputs from agencies)