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Illinois calls on National Guard to help fight floods

Unseasonal flooding has killed dozens in the American Midwest, destroying buildings, closing down roads and disrupting rail traffic. The southern US states are also facing a growing danger, forecasters warn.

Hundreds of Midwesterners were urged to evacuate on Friday after the Mississippi River reportedly topped a levee in southern Illinois, putting several communities in jeopardy.

Governor of Illinois Bruce Rauner called on the National Guard to assist the rescue effort.

The US floods have killed at least 28 people since last weekend, mostly motorists driving on wet roads. In addition, the water has forced officials to close several highways, causing severe traffic congestion in parts of the US Midwest.

Passenger and freight trains were also disrupted.

The rivers destroyed hundreds of homes in the region, and flooded at least two raw sewage plants in eastern Missouri during the week.

State of emergency in Louisiana

The Mississippi River began receding on Friday, after reaching near-record levels the day before, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

"Major flooding is occurring or forecast on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers and tributaries in Missouri, Illinois, and Kentucky, with record flooding at several locations," the weather experts said earlier.

While the water levels fell throughout Missouri and Illinois, NWS fears that the southern US states could be next in line.

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A flooded house near the Mississippi River

The flooding was "also occurring on the Arkansas River and tributaries in Arkansas. Floodwaters will move downstream over the next couple of weeks, with significant river flooding expected for the lower Mississippi into mid-January," according to the service.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal declared a state of emergency in his state.

The southern states have also been hit by unseasonable tornadoes, storms and heavy rains in recent weeks, with the East Coast experiencing warm weather during the holiday season.

The Midwest flooding also comes at an unexpected time, as the rivers in the region usually swell during the snowmelt in the spring.

dj/bk (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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