US & Canada

Toll from floods in Texas and Oklahoma rises

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Media captionParts of Houston were under water on Tuesday after heavy rains

At least 17 people have been killed and dozens injured in the US states of Oklahoma and Texas following record rainfall over the weekend.

At least four deaths have been blamed on the storm in the Houston area. The storm led to major flooding and tornadoes sweeping across the southern part of America.

More heavy rains are expected over the next few days.

Parts of Houston - the US's fourth most populous city - remain under water.

Thousands of cars have been abandoned on city streets and highways.

Scores of residents have been displaced and more than 1,000 homes have been destroyed.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Hundreds of homes have been damaged or destroyed across Texas
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Scores of cars have also been damaged or written-off
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The clear-up operation is now beginning in earnest

The number of people killed in Texas and Oklahoma is expected to rise as more bodies are discovered, officials say.

By Tuesday evening, most rivers in Houston were reported to have receded back within their banks.

The floodwaters affected virtually every part of the city, officials say, bringing some areas to a standstill.

Fire fighters rescued scores of stranded motorists and at least 2,500 vehicles were abandoned by drivers, officials said.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has declared a state of emergency in 24 counties in Texas.

The bad weather does not appear to be coming to an end - forecasts have predicted a 20% to 40% chance of thunderstorms for the rest of the week in Houston.

The effects of the massive storms were also felt near the Texas border in Mexico.

On Monday, at least 14 people - including an infant - were killed by a tornado that hit the northern Mexico border city of Acuna.

Mexican authorities said that more than 1,000 homes were damaged by the storm.

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Image caption Thousands of vehicles were left stranded on Interstate 45 in Houston.
Image copyright Instagram
Image caption Alyssa Renee Ramirez, 18, in a photo posted to Instagram by her sister

One victim of the floods was Alyssa Ramirez, an 18-year-old from Devine, Texas, who was driving home from her school prom, where she had just been named prom queen.

Barricades were not being used on the road Ms Ramirez was driving home on after prom, News 4 San Antonio reported.

Image copyright Courtesy of First Baptist Church
Image caption Some members of the McComb family went missing in central Texas when the storm hit

A home was swept away in Wimberley, Texas, where teams are searching for 12 members of two families.

The families are missing after a rain-swollen river in central Texas swept their vacation home off its foundation and slammed it into a bridge downstream.

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Image caption Thousands of cars were abandoned on highways

Problems continued elsewhere in Texas as Dallas-Fort Worth airport was forced to close a runway when a sinkhole was reported.

Texas often experiences long periods of drought, despite heavy rainfall at times.

As of the week of 19 May, areas in central Texas were experiencing abnormal to severe levels of drought, with 795,851 residents affected, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

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