Hurricane Beryl tears through Texas and Louisiana, leaving at least seven people dead

At least seven people have died and millions have been left without power after Hurricane Beryl ripped through southern US states.

Six people were confirmed dead in Texas, including a 53-year-old man and a 74-year-old woman who died when trees fell on to their homes in separate incidents in Harris County, Sky's US partner NBC reported.

Russell Richardson, a 54-year-old information security officer who had been called in to help with relief efforts, was caught in rising flood waters and died as he drove to work, police in Houston said.

Other victims in Texas included a man in his 40s who died when he was struck by a tree while operating a tractor, and two people who were found dead in a tent in woods in Magnolia, Montgomery County Emergency Management said.

A woman in Benton, Louisiana, died when a tree fell on to her home, a local sheriff said.

Even as a huge clean-up operation began to restore power to 2.3 million energy customers, more than 21 million people from Arkansas to Michigan were put under flood watches on Tuesday as the storm moved northeastwards.

Pictures showed houses with roofs blown off by winds of up to 80mph (128kmh) after Beryl made landfall early on Monday near the coastal town of Matagorda.

The storm, which was re-classified to a tropical depression on Monday, knocked out 10 long-distance transmission lines and toppled hundreds of trees, some of which took down local power lines.

Almost two million of those affected by power outages are customers of CenterPoint Energy, Houston's main electricity provider, which has said it hopes to restore services to half of them by Thursday.

Texas lieutenant governor Dan Patrick said the company was bringing in thousands of additional workers to restore power, and prioritising places such as nursing homes and assisted living centres.

Mr Patrick said: "We're not past any difficult conditions," and predicted a "multiple day process to get power restored".

Dozens of vehicles were left stranded on flooded roads as heavy rains swamped parts of the state.

Houston, the fourth-largest city in the US, suffered much of the damage as Beryl's rains pounded coastal areas, but there were no immediate reports of structural damage.

Video of the dramatic rescue of a man who had climbed to the roof of his pickup truck after it got trapped in fast-flowing waters was broadcast by local TV stations.

Emergency crews used an extension ladder from a fire truck to drop him a life jacket and a rope before moving him to dry land, one of at least 25 water rescues in the city, mostly for people with vehicles stuck in floodwaters.

In May, eight people died and nearly one million were left without power as a previous set of storms hit the city.

Houston mayor John Whitmire said: "First responders are putting their lives at risk. That's what they're trained for. It's working."

Damaging winds and flash flooding would continue as Beryl pushes inland, forecasters said.

With parts of the area sweltering in a heatwave, restoring power is an urgent requirement, even though temperatures cooled slightly with the storm, which has moved eastwards, putting several other states at risk.

Read more:
'We were all scared,' says Hurricane Beryl survivor
Las Vegas hits all-time record high temperature
Alec Baldwin film set shooting trial begins

It is forecast to weaken further to become a post-tropical cyclone on Tuesday.

As it moved inland, the storm threatened to create tornadoes and the US National Weather Service confirmed on social media that tornadoes had been spotted in northeastern Louisiana.