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Hurricane Laura: At least four dead and 700,000 homes and businesses left without power

At least four people are dead after Hurricane Laura pounded the Gulf Coast, with strong winds and heavy rain triggering a wall of sea water.

The category 4 storm – one of the strongest hurricanes to ever strike the US – tore across Louisiana on Thursday, threatening the city of Lake Charles, an industrial and casino city of 80,000 people.

Tall buildings had their windows smashed in 150mph winds, while glass and debris were thrown around the city.

Aerial videos showed the devastation in the area, with water surrounding homes that had their roofs ripped off by the powerful winds.

A 68-year-old man and a 14-year-old girl were among at least four people that have been killed after trees toppled on to their homes, according to officials.

It took 11 hours from when it made landfall for Hurricane Laura to weaken into a tropical storm as it headed towards Arkansas.

“It looks like 1,000 tornadoes went through here – it is just destruction everywhere,” said Brett Geymann, who rode out the storm with members of his family near Lake Charles.

He said the hurricane sounded like a jet engine passing overhead.

“There are houses that are totally gone. They were there yesterday, but now gone,” he added.

As day broke, a tower of smoke rose across Lake Charles, caused by a chlorine leak at a chemical plant.

The plant manufactures household cleaners, according to police, who urged locals to close their doors and windows and turn off their air conditioners.

A full damage assessment could take days, after the heavy winds made it difficult for officials to search for survivors in the hardest-hit areas.

“There are some people still in town, people are calling… but there ain’t no way to get to them,” Tony Guillory, president of the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury, said over the phone from a shaking government building.

Mr Guillory also said that he hoped those that had been stranded by the storm could be rescued later, but worried that flood waters and blocked roads could pose problems.

According to PowerOutage.Us, more than 700,000 homes and businesses were without power in Louisiana and Texas on Thursday.

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