Hurricane Florence: Mother and baby among five killed as storm hits US east coast

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Hurricane Florence: At least five people have died, including a mother and her baby, as Hurricane Florence battered the southeastern coast of the US.

Later downgraded to a tropical storm, slow-moving Florence arrived over North and South Carolina just after 7 am local time on Friday, bringing torrential rain and severe floods.
The mother and baby were among a family of three who was in a house in Wilmington, North Carolina when it was struck by a falling tree.

The father was taken to the hospital, reportedly in a critical condition.
In Pender County, a woman died of a heart attack. Paramedics who tried to reach her were blocked by debris.

In Lenoir County, a 78-year-old man was electrocuted attempting to connect extension cords, while another man died when he was blown down by high winds while checking on his hunting dogs. Florence had been a category three hurricane with 120mph winds as of Thursday but dropped to a category one hurricane before coming ashore.

The National Hurricane Center downgraded it to a tropical storm on Friday afternoon but warned that life-threatening storm surges – in which water is pushed over land that would normally be dry – and catastrophic freshwater flooding were still expected.

The storm caused chaos in the region, with trees strewn across roads, buildings battered and power cut to almost 700,000 homes. More than 400 people had to be rescued from their homes or vehicles and some 20,000 were taking refuge in shelters across North and South Carolina and Virginia.

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the town of Oriental, North Carolina, got more than 18 inches of rain in just a few hours, while Surf City had 14 inches. North Carolina’s governor Roy Cooper described the storm as “an uninvited brute who doesn’t want to leave”.

The National Hurricane Center said Florence is expected to be re-categorized as a tropical depression by the time it moves into the mid-Atlantic states and New England in the middle of next week.

Meanwhile, Super Typhoon Mangkhut has hit the northern tip of the Philippines, with maximum gusts of 177mph.

Two women died after a hillside collapsed in the city of Baguio, police said.

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