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Eight swimmers dead after flash flooding in Arizona, US, others missing (Video)

At least eight people drowned while swimming in an Arizona, US, river when a group was overwhelmed by flash flooding that followed heavy rains in the drought-stricken region.

Authorities were searching for others missing after the incident on Saturday afternoon in the Verde River near Payson, about 145km northeast of Phoenix, the Gila County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.

Local media reported that at least two children were among the dead, and they were part of a large group of 14 people. The sheriff's office did not give details of the deceased or those missing.

Flood waters seen in Arizona, US, after heavy rainfall.

Sheriff J. Adam Shepherd said in the statement that a search-and-rescue operation was underway involving sheriff's deputies and the Arizona Department of Public Safety Ranger Helicopter, as well as members of the local Whispering Pines Fire Department and US Forest Service.

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There was also concern over possible flash flooding in southern Arizona.


The National Weather Service in Phoenix said that most of Arizona was under flash flood watch until Monday evening, warning that "heavy rains can produce flash flooding of low lying, normally dry areas such as washes."


Elsewhere in the US, officials are concerned flooding could impact the start of classes next month.

Gurnee City employees check a flooded area in Gurnee, Illinois, US.

Bookshelves in W.J. Murphy Elementary School's library in Illinois are completely covered by water, The Chicago Tribune reported. The gym, a music room and computer room also are flooded at the school in Lake County's Round Lake, northwest of Chicago and south of Wisconsin's state line.

Heavy rainfall that hit the Midwest last Wednesday knocked out power to thousands and closed roadways. Power outages caused by flooding forced the evacuation of Lake Forest Hospital in suburban Chicago. 

State officials have said that some 6800 structures - including homes, businesses and other buildings such as garages - have been affected by the "unprecedented" flooding.

A flooded area is seen in Gurnee, Illinois, US.

The damage was expected to worsen this weekend as water flows down rivers into the state from Wisconsin.