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Several killed in flooding in West Virginia

At least 20 people have been killed after torrential rains triggered flooding in the US state of West Virginia. The storm dumped one-quarter of the state's annual rainfall in a single day.

Rescue crews picked up dozens of people from roof tops and stranded cars as the worst flooding in more than a century swelled rivers and streams in the Mountain State.

"The damage is widespread and devastating," Governor Earl Ray Tomblin said at a news conference. "Our biggest challenge continues to be high waters."

A weather system on Thursday dumped 23 centimeters (9 inches) of rain in parts of the state, forcing the governor to declare a state of emergency in 44 of 55 counties and deploy the National Guard.

The flooding left 66,000 people without power and hundreds stranded, including 500 people at a shopping center. Extensive structural damage was reported across the state.

"There have been towns that have been completely surrounded by water," said Tim Rock, spokesman for the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. "People say there is 8 to 9 feet (3 meters) of water in their house."

Among the 20 dead were two children, news agency AP reported.

Rains calmed on Friday and were expected to diminish.

cw/bk (AP, Reuters)

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