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Multiple Fatalities in West Virginia Flooding That Stranded Hundreds of Shoppers

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Updated: | Originally published: ;

Heavy flooding in West Virginia has killed at least four people and left hundreds of people trapped in a shopping mall after an overpass bridge collapsed Thursday night.

A state official said Friday that some areas were experiencing the worst flooding in 100 years, and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has declared a state of emergency in 44 counties. At least four fatalities have been reported so far: A man drowned, and an 8-year old boy was swept away by swift-moving water, according to the Associated Press. Authorities are also searching for a toddler who was also reportedly swept away in the storm.

In addition, more than 500 people remained stranded in an Elkview mall after a bridge connecting the mall to a main road was swept away by the flooding during the thunderstorm.

Emergency crews were working to rescue the hundreds of shoppers and employees trapped at Elkview Crossings Mall after the overpass bridge collapsed Thursday night, according to WSAZ. Stranded shoppers were fighting over hotel rooms at the La Quinta inn in the mall, and attempting to buy blankets and pillows so they could sleep in their cars. Restaurants in the mall were out of gas and water. The overpass bridge collapsed when Little Sandy Creek flooded during heavy rains.

About 40,000 people were without power on Thursday because of the storm. At least two nursing homes needed to be evacuated, and many major highways were shut down. The storm came just days after a tornado delivered 80 mph winds to the state on Tuesday.

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Write to Charlotte Alter at charlotte.alter@time.com