Nine dead, one missing in Arizona flash floods

A helicopter searches for missing people in Arizona on Monday, 17 July 2017.

PHOENIX - At least nine people drowned while swimming in an Arizona river after they became overwhelmed by flash flooding.

It followed heavy rains in the drought-stricken region, officials said on Sunday.

Local media reported at least two children were among the dead.

Authorities are searching for at least one other missing person after the incident on Saturday afternoon in the Verde River near Payson, about 145 km northeast of Phoenix, Water Wheel Fire and Medical District Fire Chief Ron Sattelmaier said.

GALLERY: The aftermath of a flash flood

The Gila County Sheriff's Office did not give details of the deceased or those missing.

A search-and-rescue operation was under way 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, Sheriff Adam Shepherd said in a statement.

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."


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