Basketball: Wild weather in Houston leaves Rockets fans trapped at arena

HOUSTON (AFP) - Torrential rain left large parts of Houston submerged Tuesday and trapped fans at an NBA basketball game, in savage weather that has killed nearly 20 people in the United States and Mexico.

The southern US states of Texas and Oklahoma, and far northern Mexico, have borne the brunt of several days of wild weather, including tornadoes, which have destroyed homes, seen rivers swell to record levels and left cars submerged on highways.

More than 25cm of heavy rain fell in just a few hours in the Texas city of Houston, triggering the worst flooding there in at least a decade and stranding at an arena spectators who had gone to watch a Houston Rockets basketball game on Monday night.

New television images from Houston showed abandoned cars entirely submerged on roadways and flooded streets abandoned. Some people were trapped in their cars, other marooned in their homes. One person died overnight in the flooding in the city, local media reported.

Downtown Houston, where the Toyota Center arena is located, was not under water, said Mayor Annise Parker, but some fans had been unable to get home from the NBA game after the deluge.

"We had a torrential downpour as the game was ending and a lot of folks were asked to stay until the rain let up and there was localised street flooding," Parker told CNN.

Fears were growing meanwhile for at least 12 people missing in Hays County, also in Texas, officials said.