Death toll from Hurricane Matthew climbs to 26 in North Carolina

The death toll from Hurricane Matthew has risen to 26 in North Carolina, with two more bodies recovered as some flood waters recede, Governor Pat McCrory said on Saturday.

The bodies of a 53-year-old man and a 47-year-old woman were pulled from submerged vehicles in Cumberland and Wayne counties, respectively, McCrory told a news conference.

More than 30 deaths in the United States have been blamed on Matthew, which dumped more than a foot (30 cm) of water on inland North Carolina last week. Before hitting the southeast U.S. coast, the fierce storm killed around 1,000 people in Haiti.

McCrory said towns such as Princeville, Lumberton and Fair Bluff remained under water. In Princeville, believed to be the oldest incorporated African-American town in the United States, water surged to house roof lines on Thursday.

Although water is receding in many areas, the Lumber, Neuse, and Tar rivers are not expected to drop below major flood stage until Wednesday at the latest, McCrory said.

More than 660 roads remained closed in central and eastern North Carolina because of damage or flooding, the governor said. The number of homes and businesses without power has dropped to about 13,000, down from a peak of more than 800,000 on Sunday.

In one sign that the crisis was easing, no rescues were reported overnight, after about 2,333 water rescues were carried out in the aftermath of the storm, McCrory said.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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