At least 15 dead after mass flooding rips through US state of Kentucky

US President Biden declares state of emergency as officials expect death toll to double, water levels to crest Saturday.

At least 15 dead after mass flooding rips through US state of Kentucky

At least 15 people were killed after mass flooding decimated eastern parts of the US state of Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear announced on Friday.

The death toll is expected to rise with Beshear acknowledging the tentative figure "is going to grow," and will "probably more than double."

Children are expected to be among the dead, and the governor said in a pre-recorded video message that entire families may have been lost.

First responders engaged in around 50 air rescue of people stranded by rapidly rising flood waters, and hundreds of more boat rescues were carried out. Over 23,000 Kentuckians remain without power and several counties remain without water service.

"This situation is ongoing. We are still in the search and rescue mode, and at least in some areas the water is not going to crest until tomorrow," said Beshear. "It's going to be a tough couple days, and it is going to be a long rebuild, but we are tough enough. We'll make it. Let's stick together. Let's help out our fellow human beings."

US President Joe Biden has declared a state of emergency in Kentucky in order to facilitate federal assistance.

More rainfall is expected on Friday with the National Weather Service (NWS) estimating between 1 and 3 inches (2.54-7.62 CM) to fall in the already-inundated state, which it said would increase the threat of more flash flooding.

More rain and storms are expected to hit eastern Kentucky beginning on Sunday, with the heaviest rainfall possible through Monday, according to the NWS local office in the city of Jackson.

Hüseyin Demir