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At least 44 killed in US flash floods triggered by freak rain due to climate change

At least 44 people in four of USA’s north-eastern states were killed in flash floods, caused by torrential rains triggered by remnants of Hurricane Ida (Pic. Courtesy Twitter/@DDNewslive)

At least 44 people in four of USA’s north-eastern states were killed in flash floods, caused by torrential rains triggered by remnants of Hurricane Ida, that swept away cars, submerged subway lines and snapped power supply, according to local media reports.

The unprecedented rains are seen as a weather event attributed to climate change.

At least 23 people died in New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy told reporters. "The majority of these deaths were individuals who got caught in their vehicles," he said.

Roads and streets were transformed into rivers within minutes as the downpours struck on Wednesday night, trapping drivers in quickly rising floodwaters. Scores of vehicles were found abandoned on roads.

Across large areas of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut saw residents stranded by flooding making frantic calls to friends and family.

Among the fatalities, three people were found dead in a basement in the New York City borough of Queens, while four residents of Elizabeth, New Jersey, died at a public housing complex flooded by 8 feet of water.

U.S. President Joe Biden declared that an emergency exists in the states of New Jersey and New York and ordered federal assistance to supplement local response efforts due to conditions resulting from the remnants of Hurricane Ida, the White House said late on Thursday.

A victim in Maplewood Township, New Jersey, was swept away while he was apparently trying to remove debris from storm drains in the area, police said.

"Sadly, more than a few folks have passed as a result of this," Murphy said at a briefing in Mullica Hill in the southern part of the state, where a tornado ripped apart several homes.

The National Weather Service confirmed two tree-snapping tornadoes also struck Maryland on Wednesday, one in Annapolis and another Baltimore. A 19-year-old was reported to have died after trying to rescue his mother from a flooded apartment in Rockville, Maryland, according to the Washington Post.

The damage came three days after Ida, one of the most powerful hurricanes ever to strike the U.S. Gulf Coast, made landfall on Sunday in Louisiana wiping out entire communities.

In Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, outside Philadelphia, the Schuylkill River inundated hotels, warehouses and condominiums that line the river. Emergency squads were waiting for the waters to recede on Thursday before starting evacuations of possibly hundreds of people who live in nearby apartments, Reuters cited officials as saying.

According to scientists, global warming is causing cyclones to become more powerful and carry more water, posing an increasing threat to the world's coastal communities.

Also read: Rising sea may submerge Mumbai’s iconic Nariman Point, Cuffe Parade areas by 2050, says top official