Two dead as storms lash southern California

A powerful Pacific storm left two people dead in California as winds of more than 70mph downed power lines and brought trees down.

Evacuations of homes in some neighbourhoods were requested due to the potential for mudslides and debris flows.

More than 300 arriving and departing flights were delayed or cancelled at Los Angeles International Airport.

In the Sherman Oaks area of Los Angeles, a falling tree downed power lines and hit a car.

A 55-year-old man was electrocuted and pronounced dead at hospital, police and fire officials said.

Later in the same neighbourhood, a sinkhole swallowed two cars, the second on live TV as viewers watched it teeter on the edge before plunging in.

Firefighters rescued one person from the first car, and the driver got out of the second before it fell. No-one was injured.

Winds gusting to 70mph or more lashed parts of the region, and heavy rains turned creeks and rivers into brown torrents and released large volumes of mud from hillsides burned barren by wildfires.

Several stretches of highways were closed by flooding.

"It's crazy," said Robin Johnson, an academic adviser at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

"It's just pouring down rain. The wind is just going nuts."

In the desert town of Victorville, several cars were washed down a flooded street.

A helicopter rescued one person from the roof of a car but another motorist was found dead in a submerged vehicle, San Bernardino County fire spokesman Eric Sherwin said.

Elsewhere in the county, a 20-mile stretch of State Route 138 in the West Cajon Valley was closed at the scene of a summer wildfire.

Mud sloshed over concrete rail barriers and about two dozen vehicles, including lorries and a school bus, were either mired in mud or became unable to turn around on the closed road and some were abandoned.

Two people in a car were rescued and four students on the bus were removed and taken to a school office, Mr Sherwin said.

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