Kentucky flooding death toll rises

Rescuers struggle to find survivors with the cell phone outage

JACKSON, KY – JULY 30: In this aerial view, floodwater can be seen as the Kentucky National Guard fly a recon and rescue mission on July 30, 2022 in Jackson, Kentucky. Flood waters have receded but still surround the town. At least 25 people have been killed in the state, with hundreds rescued, but many still unaccounted for amid flooding after heavy rainfall. Michael Swensen/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by Michael Swensen / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — Devastating flooding in Kentucky has killed 25 people and the toll is expected to rise, the southern US state’s governor said Saturday, as rescuers and residents continued a harrowing search for survivors.

Torrential rain earlier this week caused unprecedented flash flooding in 13 counties in eastern Kentucky.

Many roads and bridges in that mountainous region — an area high in poverty due to the declining coal industry — have been damaged or destroyed. With cell phone service seriously disrupted, finding survivors has been difficult.

“I’m worried we are going to be finding bodies for weeks to come. Keep praying,” Governor Andy Beshear said in a midday news briefing, shortly after tweeting that the death toll had risen to 25 from 16 a day earlier.

Beshear said an earlier report that six children were among the dead was inaccurate; two of them had turned out to be adults.

The four children, United States media reported, were lost in a heart-rending drama. Members of a family, clinging to a tree after a fast-rising stream had engulfed their mobile home, saw their children torn from their grip, one after another, by powerfully surging waters.

Beshear said national guard units from Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia had made more than 650 air rescues since the flooding began Wednesday evening, while state police and other state personnel had registered some 750 water rescues.

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