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Hurricane Irene death toll rises to 10

LOS ANGELES — At least seven people have died — including several killed by falling trees — as a result of Hurricane Irene, the slow-moving but powerful swirl of wind and rain that barreled ashore in North Carolina on Saturday.

The first two deaths from the hurricane were reported in North Carolina. A man in Nash County was killed by a falling tree limb outside his home on Saturday, local authorities said. And on Friday, a man installing plywood over a window of his home in Onslow County died of a heart attack, said Ernie Seneca of the North Carolina Emergency Management office in Raleigh.

In Florida, officials say two people died in the rough surf along New Smyrna Beach.

The Volusia County Sheriff's Office said 55-year-old Frederick Fernandez was surfing off New Smyrna Beach on Saturday morning when he went under water. Witnesses told deputies he was surfing one minute and was gone the next. Flagler County sheriff's officials said a New Jersey tourist also died Saturday in rough surf.

In Virginia, Irene was blamed for three deaths. In Newport News, 11-year-old Zahir Robinson died when a tree crashed through his apartment. In Brunswick County, 67-year-old James Blackwell of Brodnax was killed when a tree fell on the car he was riding in. The driver was injured. In Chesterfield County, a man whose identity has not been released died when a house was hit by a tree.

The 11-year-old and his mother were lying side-by-side on the bed of an upstairs bedroom when the tree came through the ceiling, pinning the boy underneath, Newport News police spokesman Lou Thurston said.

When firefighters arrived, they could see part of the boy, but there was difficulty getting to him because of the tree. The boy was pronounced dead at 12:54 p.m., Thurston said. The boy's mother was unharmed.

Firefighters had to wait close to 40 minutes before starting to remove the tree because electrical wires had fallen onto the building and become tangled with the tree.

Also, authorities in New Hanover County, N.C., were searching for a man who either fell or jumped into the Cape Fear River on Friday as the first outer bands of the storm began to ravage the area.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Hurricane Irene death toll rises to 10 08/28/11 [Last modified: Sunday, August 28, 2011 1:24am]

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