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Death toll climbs to 7 amid storm havoc in Houston

18 May 2024 [21:57] - TODAY.AZ

The death toll from destructive storms battering Houston on Thursday night has risen to at least seven, the Harris County Sheriff's Office confirmed on Friday evening, Azernews reports citing foreign media.

An EF-1 tornado was confirmed near Cypress in the northwest of the fourth largest U.S. city with 100 mph (160 kph) straight-line winds and tore over the downtown, causing widespread damage, the U.S. National Weather Service said on Friday.

In east Houston, a 60-year-old man who lost power in the storm went out to his truck to plug in his oxygen tank. He was found dead on Friday morning, said Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez on social media. The county includes most of Houston.

In northwest Houston, a 57-year-old man died trying to move an electrical pole in the storm while an 85-year-old woman and her pet were killed in a mobile home fire caused by lightning.

The fourth, a man, was working on a construction project and sitting in a cement truck when a portable crane fell during high winds.

At least three deaths were linked to fallen trees, including a Houston mother of four who died inside a vehicle in her driveway after a tree crushed it.

Two high school students were injured when their school bus was stuck during the fatal storm on Thursday, said the Houston Independent School District, the largest district in Texas and the eighth largest in the United States.

As many as 136 schools of the public school system had no power around 12 p.m. (1700 GMT) on Friday, said the district, which runs 274 schools in total.

As of Friday morning, more than 700,000 people in the Houston area were still without power, according to the latest update from CenterPoint Energy, which supplies electricity to the region.

More than 920,000 customers lost power at the height of outages, according to CenterPoint Energy, noting that strong winds caused "significant damage" to its infrastructure across the city.

Downtown Houston hit by tornado was the center of the havoc with shattered glass from highrise buildings sprawled across streets. Many roads remain closed as crews worked to clean up damage on Friday.

Houston Mayor John Whitmire and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said at a joint press conference on Friday that the recovery would likely take weeks, not days.

The mayor signed a local state of disaster declaration for the city on Friday, describing the "devastation" as "significant."

Texas Governor Greg Abbott also announced on Friday that he has amended a disaster declaration he issued for storms battering Houston in April as part of the state's emergency response.

Earlier this month, multiple rounds of thunderstorms caused deadly flooding across eastern Texas, including the Houston area, forcing evacuations and school closures.


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