23 dead and hundreds stranded as worst floods in a century hit West Virginia

At least 23 people, including two young boys, have been killed in flooding in the US state of West Virginia. They died as the deluge destroyed about 100 homes and stranded hundreds of other people who had to be plucked from rooftops and rescued from fast-moving waters. Among those who had to be saved were about 500 people trapped in a shopping centre in Elkview, near the capital Charleston, when a bridge leading to the main road was washed away. “The damage is widespread and devastating. Our focus remains on search and rescue,” said governor Earl Ray Tomblin.

I had planned to fly around the affected areas myself today but wasn’t able to, because all state aircrafts are currently being used for rescues

West Virginia governor Earl Ray Tomblin

A state of emergency was declared in 44 of the state’s 55 counties as ten inches of rain swelled rivers to levels not seen since 1888. The dead included an eight-year-old boy who was swept away while walking along a creek bank with his mother and sister, and a four-year-old boy who slipped into a rushing creek while with his grandfather. Pictures posted on social media showed a man in chest-high water using a rock to smash the windows of a vehicle whose occupants were trapped inside. Another set of photos showed a woman who had caught a giant trout with her hands while standing on a two-lane road amid stopped traffic.

My wife was out there four and a half hours hanging in a tree with a house burning right beside her, flood waters running all around her

Ronnie Scott describes his wife, Belinda’s ordeal, after their house blew up