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At least 5 dead in US flooding

world Updated: May 02, 2010 12:01 IST

At least five people died and hundreds were being evacuated as heavy rains pounded the southern state of Tennessee, causing widespread flooding across the state.

The forecast called for more rain through the weekend.

The five deaths were storm related, but the exact causes were not yet known, Jeremy Heidt, spokesman for the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, said yesterday evening.

Hundreds of homes had been evacuated and shelters were being opened across the state for people stranded due to flooded roads. Heidt said crews were called out for swift-water rescues from Nashville to Memphis.

"It's so widespread, it's a very serious concern," he said. The deaths were in reported in Stewart, Davidson, Williamson and Carroll counties, he said.

The southwestern part of the state was extremely hard hit, with several Memphis-area streets declared impassable. Memphis received 25 centimetres or more of rain during the day and officials were warning that up to 20 centimetres more could fall overnight and into today.

Corey Chaskelson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said a levee had been breached along the Big Creek River in Millington. He said 1.2 to 1.5 meters of water had flooded 200-300 homes at the Naval Support Activity base in Millington.

Emergency officials in Shelby County said hundreds of people were being evacuated due to high water, including residents of the Navy base and inmates at a federal prison.

In Nashville, emergency responders had rescued 50 people from flooding, Mayor Karl Dean said at a news conference yesterday night. Police Chief Ronal Serpas said two police officers had to be rescued from a tree.