US & Canada

South Carolina flooding brings mass power cuts and rescues

Abandoned vehicles in Columbia, South Carolina. Photo: 4 October 2015 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption About 100 people were rescued from their vehicles on flooded roads overnight

The US state of South Carolina remains on high alert amid widespread flooding that has cut power to thousands and forced road and water rescues.

Emergency officials urged residents to stay indoors unless their homes were in danger of flooding and not to drive.

About 100 people were rescued from their cars on flooded roads overnight.

It has been raining for much of the week, but a weather system connected to Hurricane Joaquin in the Caribbean is making the situation worse.

The storm is not expected to hit the eastern US, but the moisture associated with it is contributing to heavy rainfall.

President Barack Obama earlier declared a state of emergency in South Carolina.

The US National Weather Service warned that parts of the state could see over 15in (380mm) of rain by Sunday evening.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Residents and first responders are using boats to rescue people trapped in their homes
Image copyright AP
Image caption Much of Charleston, South Carolina, is already under water
Image copyright AP
Image caption In some areas, residents have already begun clearing flood debris

Areas around the state capital Columbia are among the worst affected.

City police issued a warning to residents in a tweet: "Too many roads to name that are flooded. Please heed our warning! DO NOT venture out! 9-1-1 dispatchers are working hard to answer calls."

In the historic city centre of Charleston, many streets have been closed and sandbags have been piled up to keep floodwaters out.

"Where we normally are dealing with flooding for a few hours, we're dealing with it in days here,'' Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen told the Associated Press news agency.

Resident Jamieson Clair told Agence France-Presse: "It's the worst water I have seen in the 10 years I have lived here. Neighbours tell me it's the worst since Hurricane Hugo [in 1989]."

The emergency declared by President Obama means state and local authorities can receive federal help to deal with the flooding.

On Thursday, El Faro cargo ship with 33 crew went missing after sailing through Hurricane Joaquin off the Bahamas.

On Sunday, the US Coast Guard said it had spotted floating debris, including life jackets, in the search area off the south-eastern Bahamas.

However, it said it was not yet able to confirm that the debris was from the vessel.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The 224m El Faro was last heard from on Thursday and reported to be taking on water

More on this story

Around the BBC