A grandmother and four of her grandchildren were killed in floods in Texas caused by a storm system that unleashed tornadoes, hail and torrential rains on several central US states, officials said on Saturday.
The flood victims in Palestine, Texas, 100 miles (160 km) southeast of Dallas, evacuated a house where flood waters had reached the roof line and were then swept away by rushing waters, Palestine Police Captain James Muniz said.
"They were able to get out but they were washed away," he said, adding that their bodies were recovered on Saturday.
Those killed were identified as Jamonicka Johnson, 6, Von Johnson Jr., 7, Devonte Asberry, 8, Venetia Asberry, 9, and Lenda Asberry, 64. Palestine police took the bodies to Tyler, Texas for autopsies, officials said.
A Palestine man, Giovani Olivas, 30, was swept under flood waters around Anderson County Road 370. His body was found late Saturday afternoon, according to Anderson County Sheriff Greg Taylor.
Seven homes were evacuated and temporary shelters were established, officials said. The city received 19 cm (7.5 inches) of rain in less than an hour, which caused the floods.
"I don't recall ever seeing this much water rise so fast and in such a short period of time," Palestine Mayor Bob Herrington said in a statement in which he also offered condolences to the family of the five victims.
The National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm watch on Saturday, extending from the Houston area, where floods this month have killed eight people, into much of Louisiana. It has also issued a flash flood watch extending from Texas into western Tennessee.
Strong winds in the Houston area downed trees and cut power lines, the service said. As of 10:30 am local time, more than 4,200 customers in the region were without power, CenterPoint Energy reported.
There were seven reported tornadoes from the storm system on Friday in Texas and Oklahoma. A twister caused damage to several structures in Ninnekah, about 50 miles southwest of Oklahoma City, local news reports said.