The death toll from the devastating floods in Kentucky has risen to 25 and is expected to rise further, the governor of this US state said on Saturday.
“We have bad news to report today from Eastern Kentucky where we are still in the search and rescue phase,” Andy Beshear tweeted.
“Toll has risen to 25 dead and that number is likely to increase,” added the elected Democrat.
Torrential rains battered the eastern part of this rural state overnight from Wednesday to Thursday, turning some roads into rivers and forcing residents to take shelter on the roofs of their homes while waiting for help.
The rains continued on Friday, but the weather gave rescuers a welcome respite on Saturday.
“A cold front is moving south and the weather is expected to remain relatively dry today” , indicated the local national weather services, warning that “the dry weather should end on Sunday afternoon”.
President Joe Biden declared a state of “natural disaster” and released federal reinforcements to support areas affected by “storm, flooding, landslides and mudslides”.
With human-induced global warming, the atmosphere contains more water vapour, increasing the chances of heavy rainfall events, scientists say. These rains, combined with other factors related in particular to the development of the territory, favor the floods.
Some areas of Kentucky received some 20 centimeters of rain in 24 hours and, in places, the waters rivers suddenly rose several feet before bursting their banks.
In the Jackson area, some roads became powerful streams, with abandoned cars here and there.
In December, several dozen violent tornadoes tore through five states in the central United States, mainly Kentucky, and killed at least 79 people.