Death toll rises in West Virginia floods | News | DW | 25.06.2016
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Death toll rises in West Virginia floods

At least 24 people have been reported dead after heavy rainfall led to massive flooding, mudslides and landslides in the US state of West Virginia. The governor has called it the worst flooding in a century.

At least 24 people are confirmed dead and an unknown number are missing following devastating floods in areas of West Virginia, officials said on Saturday.

West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin said it may be the worst flooding the state has seen in 100 years.

He also announced on Twitter that 400 National Guard troops have been deployed to assist in relief efforts.

US President Barack Obama declared a major disaster for the state on Saturday and approved federal aid to three of the worst-hit counties. The aid for affected individuals in Kanawha, Greenbrier and Nicholas counties provides assistance for immediate needs such as medical support and emergency housing.

Hundreds of people have already been rescued, many from their rooftops. Emergency teams are still looking for others who have been stranded, said Tim Rock, spokesman for the state's Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

"We have lost almost entire towns in some cases," Rock said. "There is going to be a lot of rebuilding, a lot of people without homes, a lot of businesses destroyed."

Over 32,000 homes and businesses remained without power on Saturday.

Flooding in West Virginia

Over 32,000 homes and businesses are without power

Golf tournament cancelled

Greenbrier County, where 15 deaths have been reported along with the heaviest rainfalls, was the hardest-hit area, state officials said. There are still some in the area who are unaccounted for, although authorities did not provide an exact number.

The county is home to the golf tournament, the Greenbrier Classic, which has now been canceled, PGA Tour officials announced on Saturday. The tournament had been originally scheduled for July 7-10.

The Greenbrier host course suffered extensive damage from the flooding and "is beyond reasonable repair to conduct the tournament," PGA officials said.

"All of our focus needs to be on helping all of the people of our great state," Jim Justice, owner of the Greenbrier resort said in a news release. "So many have lost loved ones, their homes, and have no place to go."

Record-breaking rainfall

West Virginia received one-fourth of its annual rainfall in a single day on Thursday. Up to 10 inches (25.4 cm) of rain pounded the mountainous state, causing multiple rivers to surge to dangerous levels.

Most of the flood warnings in the state were lifted late on Friday.

Around 500 people were reportedly stranded at a shopping mall overnight on Friday because a bridge to the location had been washed away. Some were able to leave the area after rescuers dug out an alternative exit on a hillside, news reports said.

rs/bk (AP, dpa, Reuters)

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