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Torrential rains flood Texas, US soldiers killed

At least 12 people, including nine US Army soldiers, have died amid widespread flooding in eastern Texas. With more heavy rains on the way, weather forecasters are predicting yet more flooding.

Five soldiers were killed on Thursday when their truck overturned in a flooded creek in Fort Hood. Commanders had been closing down roads across a sprawling army post when the accident happened.

Four soldiers were missing from the truck; search teams found their bodies on Friday, bringing the death toll to nine in the Fort Hood incident. Three soldiers survived the incident and were taken to hospital.

Fort Hood spokesman Chris Haug said soldiers on training exercises regularly contend with high-water levels following heavy rains.

"This was a tactical vehicle, and at the time they were in a proper place for what they were training," Haug said. "It's just an unfortunate accident that occurred quickly."

Prisoners being evacuated

Meanwhile, corrections officials have evacuated more than 4,000 inmates from at least three Texas prisons this week.

The National Weather Service says much of eastern Texas and Louisiana are under a flash flood watch, including Houston and New Orleans.

More flooding is likely over there over the weekend, as heavy rains are set to return. Some areas could see as much as 18 cm (7 inches).

The weather service warned that "due to already saturated soils, even fairly brief, intense rainfall rates can easily cause roadway and low-land flooding over urban areas."

At least 150 flights were canceled at airports in Dallas and Houston as of 1 p.m. (1800 UTC) on Friday due to the weather, according to the air tracking service FlightAware.com.

This week's storms are the latest in a series of heavy rains over the past year that have left large parts of Texas water-logged. Some areas that are now under water were suffering through drought conditions two years ago.

Severe weather in Europe

Parts of Europe are also being devastated by severe flooding

. At least six people have died in the southern German state of Bavaria. In Paris, meanwhile,

the Seine is nearly 20 feet (6 meters) above normal.

The Louvre has closed its doors in order to move invaluable works of art to higher floors.

bik/jr (AP, Reuters)

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