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Page last updated at 16:00 GMT, Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Flood traps motorists in Maryland

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Helicopters could be seen hovering over the water

US rescuers using helicopters and boats have been battling to pull motorists from ice-cold floodwater after a huge water main burst in Maryland.

There were no reports of injuries despite an entire road near Washington DC being filled by raging water.

However, of about a dozen people rescued so far, several have been treated for hypothermia after being caught in temperatures as low as -7C.

It was not immediately clear what caused the pipe to burst.

The 66in (168cm) water main broke about 0800 (1300 GMT) on River Road, Bethesda, officials in Maryland said.

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A wall of water cascaded down the road, trapping motorists inside their cars in fast-flowing water at least 4ft (1.2m) deep.

Rescue crews pulled people from their vehicles using baskets lowered by helicopter.

At one stage, dramatic television pictures showed a mother and her child being pulled from a car amidst powerful torrents of water.

Both are now thought to be safe and well.

John White, a Washington suburban sanitary commission spokesman, said valves to shut off the water were underwater and he did not know exactly where the break had occurred.

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