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Kentucky flooding death toll rises to 25

A house that was almost completely submerged by flooding in Breathitt County, Kentucky is pictured on July 29, 2022

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.

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

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

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.

Some areas in eastern Kentucky had reported receiving more than eight inches (20 centimeters) of rain in a 24-hour period.

– More rain ahead –

Scenes on social media showed houses ripped from their moorings and deposited amid masses of debris along turbid waterways or even atop a bridge.

Beshear told CNN on Saturday that the impending rain posed a challenge, and “while we don’t think it’ll be historic rain, it’ll be hard.”

Some 18,000 homes remained without power, Beshear said, and thousands were without safe water supplies.

President Joe Biden has issued a disaster declaration for the Kentucky flooding, allowing federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts.

Nearly 60 people were killed in western Kentucky by a tornado in December 2021 — a disaster that Beshear said offered lessons for current efforts on the other end of the state.

In his briefing, Beshear expressed compassion for hard-hit residents.

wd/bbk

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