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At least 9 dead, 1 mln left in dark as Hurricane Irene batters U.S. East Coast

(Xinhua)

13:33, August 28, 2011

WASHINGTON, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) -- At least nine people have died and more than 1 million residents were living in dark Saturday on the U.S. East Coast, as Hurricane Irene demonstrated its destructive force by bringing about high wind, torrential rain and flooding that caused widespread power outages and property damages.

At least six people including two teenagers died in North Carolina, where Irene made its first landfall Saturday morning, in accidents related to the ferocious storm.

A 15-year-old girl died in a car accident at an intersection where the traffic lights stopped working due to the power outage. An unidentified boy was killed in a similar car accident when the car he was riding in was struck at an intersection soaked with standing water.

Earlier the day, a man was killed while feeding his animals outside his home in a rural area of Nash County after being hit by a large tree limb brought down by strong wind. Another man living in Onslow County, died earlier from heart attack while putting up plywood board to the windows of his house to shield it from the storm.

In a car accident, a driver was killed in Pitt County, North Carolina, when he lost control of his car and hit a tree while driving into standing water on the road.

Hurricane Irene had a death toll of two in Virginia. An unidentified person was killed in Brunswick County, while sitting inside his car when it was struck by a tree toppled by strong wind and heavy rain caused by Irene. An 11-year-old boy was killed earlier the day when a tree crashed through his apartment in Newport News City, state emergency officials said.

Further south in Florida, a surfer died in the New Smyrna Beach after he defied warnings to go out for water surfing on tidal waves off the coast.

Earlier Saturday, U.S. government officials warned that Hurricane Irene, although a little weakened after being downgraded from Category 2 to Category 1 after reaching the shores of North Carolina, remained "dangerous" and residents on the East Coast have to take it seriously and get prepared.

In a show of its destructive force, Irene caused high wind, heavy rain and widespread flooding along its path, that led to massive power outages which left about 1 million residents in North Carolina and Virginia in dark as power supply was knocked out.

In North Carolina, at least 516,000 homes and businesses were suffering from power outages. In Virginia, more than 500,000 homes and businesses were without power as of Saturday afternoon, according to state and utility reports.


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