By Ria Novosti
The death toll from Hurricane Irene, a ferocious storm that has hit the U.S. East Coast, has risen to nine, CNN said, quoting emergency officials.
Four of the reported deaths were caused by falling trees; car accidents related to the storm claimed the lives of three people; one man was killed while surfing off the coast of Florida, and another person suffered a heart attack.
The states of Virginia, Maryland and the District of Colombia have been badly affected by the storm, which made landfall on Saturday morning in North Carolina, bringing strong wind and heavy rain and cutting off electricity supplies to about 1 million residents.
Hurricane-force winds, downpours and flooding are expected to hit New England soon as Irene continues to move northward.
Authorities in the states expected to be affected by the storm urge residents to evacuate from the area. More than 2 million people have been ordered evacuated on Saturday from areas where the hurricane was expected to rage.
As many as 65 million people along the densely populated East Coast may be affected by the hurricane.
According to the U.S. National Hurricane Center forecast, the Category I storm is likely to weaken to a post-tropical cyclone late on Sunday or early on Monday.