168-centimetre water main breaks near Washington D.C.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A 66-inch (168 centimeter) water main has been reported broken at River Road and Bradley Boulevard in Bethesda Maryland, a suburb of Washington D.C.

The Montgomery County Police in Maryland stated that they received a call at 7:55 local time (12:55 GMT) about a water main break. A spokesman for the Montgomery County fire department stated that no less than twelve people have been rescued by boat and helicopters from their automobiles after being stranded by the flooding. At least two cars were trapped, one of which turned over with a person inside. The rescue effort was made more difficult because the gushing water was moving so quickly.

No major injuries have been reported, although several people have been treated for frostbite, a result of the -6 centigrade (21 Fahrenheit) temperatures at the time.

Raj Bhansaly, a witness to the disaster, commented on what he saw: "I thought it might be a minor leak, then suddenly I stepped outside and, my God. It looked literally like the Potomac river."

The road is reported to be thoroughly flooded; drivers are advised to seek alternate routes. Both Bradley Boulevard and River Road are closed for the time being.