Storms hit Southern California, killing 2

14:40, January 21, 2010      

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A strong storm that has kept pounding Southern California for three days, killed two people and forced hundreds of others to leave their homes, local authorities said Wednesday.

The two victims were hit by fallen trees as fierce winds howled along the coast and in the mountains, according to Los Angeles County Fire Department (LAPD).

For fear of possible storm-caused landslides, authorities have ordered the evacuation of homes in the foothills near Los Angeles, where a summer wildfire burnt down 250 square miles (400 square kilometers) of forest.

However, only about 40 percent of the 262 homes in the area said they would leave, Los Angeles officials said, adding Police Chief Charlie Beck is sternly urging the rest to go.

"We're not doing this because your carpet is going to get wet; we're doing it because your life is at risk," Beck told a televised press conference.

At the same time, utility crews were out in force throughout the region to restore electrical service interrupted by the storms.

Southern California Edison, a public electricity utility, reported that its crew were working to restore power to 13,071 customers in several counties within its 50,000-square-mile (80,000-square-kilometer) service area as of 3 p.m. Wednesday.

About 6,000 customers of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power were without electricity as of mid-afternoon.

Two Southwest Airlines aircraft were struck by lightning Wednesday morning after reaching arrival gates at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, but both landed safely, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said.

A flight attendant on a Southwest flight from Oakland was injured when the plane was hit by lightning this morning near the Burbank airport, but has been discharged from hospital after being reported in fine condition, said airport spokesman Victor Gill.

The southernmost tip of Los Angeles was particularly hard-hit by the storm, with the San Pedro and harbor areas, and Long Beach, receiving close to 1. 5 inches of rain in about half an hour Tuesday, Enrique Zaldivar, director of the Bureau of Sanitation said.

"That's the equivalent of a 100-year storm or worse," Zaldivar said.

According to Zaldivar, it was equivalent to about 15 percent of Los Angeles' rainfall for all of 2009.

Source: Xinhua
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