Nine children die in crash as tropical storm Claudette sweeps south

Nine children die in Alabama crash as tropical storm Claudette sweeps south
Debris covering the street in East Brewton, Alabama, on Saturday from tropical storm Claudette. Source: AP
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Daily US Times: Eight children travelling in a van from a home for neglected or abused children have been killed in a multi-vehicle crash. The incident also killed a man and his baby in another vehicle as tropical depression Claudette claimed 13 lives in Alabama.

The crash happened on Saturday about 55km (35 miles) south of Montgomery and was likely caused by vehicles hydroplaning in very wet conditions, authorities said.

Claudette was the most devastating blow of a storm that swept across the south-eastern US, spurring tornadoes that destroyed dozens of homes and causing flash floods. As much as 30cm (12 inches) of rain was reported on Saturday along the Mississippi Gulf coast.

The van was carrying children aged four to 17 and it belonged to the Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch, a youth home operated by the Alabama Sheriffs Association.

The ranch’s chief executive Michael Smith said the van was heading back to the home near Camp Hill, north-east of Montgomery, after a week at the beach in Gulf Shores.

It caught fire after the wreck and the ranch director Candice Gulley was the van’s only survivor after being pulled from the flames by a bystander.

Gulley remained in hospital in Montgomery in serious but stable condition. Smith said: “She’s going to survive her physical injuries.”

Two of the dead in the van were Gulley’s children, ages 4 and 16. Four others were ranch residents and two were guests, according to Smith.

He added: “This is the worst tragedy I’ve been a part of in my life.”

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