Texas floods kill 16 and force prison evacuations

AUSTIN (Texas) • At least 16 people in Texas, including four soldiers who went missing when their vehicle overturned in flood waters, have died because of torrential rains in the past week that have deluged hundreds of homes and led to prison evacuations.

The bodies of five other soldiers had been found a day earlier, bringing the military death toll to nine after their vehicle flipped over in a flood-swollen creek last Thursday at the Fort Hood army post in central Texas. Three survivors were released from hospital on Friday, Major-General John Uberti told a news conference.

A probe has been launched into the nine deaths, said US Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter yesterday. "We will get to the bottom of this incident and others that occurred this week," Mr Carter said after a security summit in Singapore.

The vehicle overturned at a low-water crossing, and military officials have not said why the convoy was training near a swollen waterway.

The sprawling army post, which covers an area about 15 times larger than Manhattan, was closing flood-hit roads when the accident took place.

The military plans to release the names of those killed after it has notified their relatives, Maj-Gen Uberti said.

One more flood-related death in the state was likely, San Antonio police said on Friday after recovering the body of a man caught in metal bars at a river drainage spot.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice on Friday began evacuating about 1,700 inmates at its Ramsey unit in Rosharon, about 50km south of Houston, because of flooding along the Brazos River.

It had evacuated about 2,600 inmates from two other facilities earlier last week because of flooding in the same river. Many inmates were sent to other units with available beds, it said.

The National Weather Service has placed large parts of Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi on a flash-flood alert. Heavy rains are set to hit Houston and eastern Texas over the weekend, likely causing more flooding, it said.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 05, 2016, with the headline 'Texas floods kill 16 and force prison evacuations'. Print Edition | Subscribe