Joaquin soaks eastern US, leaves devastation in Bahamas

Joaquin, powerful Category Four storm, brought record-setting rain to the southeastern US after devastating parts the Bahamas and threatening to do much the same to Bermuda.

Miami: Parts of the US southeast were under water, deluged by Hurricane Joaquin's torrential rains, with forecasters predicting historic flooding for the already waterlogged region.

Joaquin, powerful Category Four storm, brought record-setting rain to the southeastern US after devastating parts the Bahamas and threatening to do much the same to Bermuda.

News reports have blamed Joaquin for four deaths in the United States since Thursday.

CNN reported that one person was killed by a falling tree in North Carolina. Three others died in weather-related accidents in South Carolina.

Meanwhile, the Bahamas, a low-lying archipelago, has huge areas where homes were destroyed and residents left without power or phone service after the passage of the storm.

"This is my 26th year living here, and I have never seen this before," San Salvador resident Paul Turnquest told The Nassau Guardian.

"This is the worst I've ever seen."

The Bahamas' National Emergency Management Agency was working on damage assessment, and did not immediately have casualty figures.

At least one person was killed on Long Island, Tribune242 reported, as lawmakers headed out on overflights to survey the damage.

And eleven houses were under water on Rum Cay, a resident there told the Guardian. Lawmaker V Alfred Gray said at least seven homes were totally destroyed between Snug Corner and Mason Bay, on Acklins Island.

The sprawling Bahamas islands is home to 385,000 people and visited by far more tourists every year -- about 1.3 million.

The US east coast -- which had had heavy rains in the days leading up to the arrival of Joaquin -- avoided a direct hit, but nevertheless suffered heavy rain from outer bands of the powerful, slow-moving storm.

News footage showed pedestrians wading through thigh-high waters in some areas.

Forecasters said Joaquin now is closing in on tiny Bermuda, population of just 66,000 people, where the potential damage could rival what was seen in the Bahamas.

At 2100 GMT, Joaquin was packing winds of 240 kilometres per hour.

The hurricane's centre was some 800 kilometres southwest of Bermuda, and it was moving northwest at 28 kilometres per hour.

Meanwhile, rescuers were frantically searching for the El Faro cargo vessel, with which contact was lost early Thursday as the dangerous weather system approached the Bahamas.

There were "still no signs of the vessel or any communication with them, but we are hoping for better weather conditions to be able to do more extensive searching," Coast Guard chief petty officer Ryan Doss told AFP.  

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