Hurricane death toll rises to at least 22 across US Southeast

A man holds onto a sign after trying to swim out to help a truck driver who was stranded in floodwater from Hurricane Matthew in Hope Mills, North Carolina. Both were rescued. Photo / AP
A man holds onto a sign after trying to swim out to help a truck driver who was stranded in floodwater from Hurricane Matthew in Hope Mills, North Carolina. Both were rescued. Photo / AP

Hurricane Matthew has left at least 11 dead in North Carolina, Governor Pat McCrory said today, pushing the death toll across the US Southeast to at least 22 even as the weakening storm still carried dangers of flooding.

Five people also remained missing in Johnson and Cumberland counties, while thousands across North Carolina still lacked power after the storm struck with downpours and high winds in its slow march up the Atlantic coast, McCrory told reporters.

McCrory warned that flooding remained an acute threat to people across central and eastern North Carolina.

"The people who live near rivers, streams and levees need to be extremely careful," he warned, stressing that this would extend through much of the week.

He said that in Lumberton - a small city about 110km inland - about 1500 residents were stranded by flooding, with some stuck on roofs.

"Helicopters, boats and swift water teams are going very heavily" to that area, McCrory said.

The latest confirmed victim was a 75-year-old man whose body was found in his car in an area of Gates County that was inundated by floodwaters, the state Emergency Operations Centre reported. The car was discovered when the floodwaters began to recede.

McCrory said the Federal Aviation Administration had issued temporary flight restrictions to keep the airspace over Lumberton clear for helicopters involved in rescue missions and pleaded with people not to send drones to the region.

Across the region, officials have also blamed Hurricane Matthew for six deaths in Florida, three in Georgia and one death each in Virginia and South Carolina. In the Caribbean, hundreds of deaths in Haiti have been attributed to the storm, and contaminated water is causing an outbreak of cholera there.

- Washington Post

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