At least five dead after Florence makes landfall on US east coast

A mother and her baby are among those killed

At least five dead after Florence makes landfall on US east coast

A gas station damaged by the storm in North Carolina, 14-09-2018. Image: Liu Jie/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

At least five people have been killed in North and South Carolina by Storm Florence.

The tropical storm was downgraded from its original category three hurricane status - but the region is still being pounded by rain and people are being urged to stay off the roads.

A woman and her child were killed were among those killed, when a tree fell into their house in Wilmington in North Carolina.

The father was taken to hospital, reportedly in a critical condition.

On Friday afternoon, the US National Hurricane Centre warned that the weather system would bring life-threatening storm surges and catastrophic freshwater flooding.

In Pender County, a woman died of a heart attack after paramedics who tried to reach her were blocked by debris.

In Lenoir County, a 78-year-old man was electrocuted attempting to connect extension cords and another man died when he was blown down by high winds while checking on his hunting dogs.

Florence had been a category three hurricane with 120mph winds as of Thursday, but dropped to a category one hurricane before coming ashore.

The US National Hurricane Centre downgraded it to a tropical storm on Friday afternoon.

The storm caused chaos in the region, with trees strewn across roads, buildings battered and power cut to almost 700,000 homes.

More than 400 people had to be rescued from their homes or vehicles and some 20,000 were taking refuge in shelters across North and South Carolina and Virginia.

The 400 mile-wide storm's winds weakened to 70mph after it reached the coast, well below the 140mph seen earlier this week.

But it still brought torrential rain.

The town of Oriental, North Carolina, got more than 18 inches of rain in just a few hours, while Surf City had 14 inches.

North Carolina's governor Roy Cooper described the storm as "an uninvited brute who doesn't want to leave."

Meanwhile, Super Typhoon Mangkhut has hit the northern tip of the Philippines, with maximum gusts of 177mph.

Police said two women died after a hillside collapsed in the city of Baguio and a woman died in neighbouring Taiwan after being swept out to sea.

The storm knocked out power as it tore across the northern part of Luzon Island - an area which is home to around 10 million people, many of whom live in flimsy wooden homes.