Two mental health patients reportedly drowned in a sheriff's vehicle after being swept into the Hurricane Florence floodwaters.
According to PEOPLE, the two women were restrained and being transported to new facilities by Horry County sheriffs when flood water overtook the vehicle and swept it away.
Authorities attempted to rescue the women but the flood water had reportedly risen so high they were unable to get the doors to the vehicle open.
“Despite persistent and ongoing efforts, floodwater rose rapidly and the deputies were unable to open the doors to reach the individuals inside the van,” the sheriff's office said in a statement.
The outlet also reports that the vehicle has no yet been able to be retrieved from its location due to the remaining flood waters.
“We are currently working with the SCDNR to recover the vehicle,” Horry County Sheriff Phillip Thompson said in a statement on Wednesday. “Due to dangerous conditions and rising waters, additional search and rescue teams are arriving to assist in the recovery of the vehicle.”
“Just like you, we have questions we want answered,” the department revealed previously. “We are fully cooperating with the State Law Enforcement Division to support their investigation of this event.”
At this time, Florence's death toll has reached 40, and nearly 343,000 people are still without power.
Story Map of #Florence Crowdsourced Photos -- 800+ damage & flood photos on a map. See impact just by zooming in. We hope this is helpful in #recovery efforts & ongoing #rescue operations. Thank you @GISCorps @nzgis4em for supporting this mission! Map: //t.co/w7i8Us9N1a pic.twitter.com/OCk70raCfJ— NAPSG Foundation (@napsgfoundation) September 19, 2018
In addition to the tragic human lives lost, there have also been near countless animal lives lost as well. Many farmers have reported losing their animals to the flooding and devastating weather that came along with Florence.
In Duplin County #NorthCarolina. So many farmers have lost animals, and/or are in need of supplies. A woman organizing a donation drive said farmers came in crying, so thankful for the generosity. @WCTI #florenceSeptember 19, 2018
The loss of animal life reportedly includes 3.4 million chickens and 5,500 pigs who either drowned or starved to death due to an inability for rescue workers to reach them.
However, rescue efforts for animals who were either abandoned or trapped during the rising flood waters are ongoing and have been able to save a number of animal lives that may have been lost otherwise.