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Two dead after tree falls on vehicle on U.S. 176

SECOND UPDATE: WYFF News 4 has reported the victims were several staff members: anchor Mike McCormick and photojournalist Aaron Smeltzer.

UPDATE: Authorities have confirmed that another mudslide has taken place on U.S. 176.

TRYON — Two people are dead after a tree fell down on a vehicle on the storm-battered U.S. 176 this afternoon, according to Polk County officials.

The investigation is being handled by the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, which has closed the highway between Thompson Road in Saluda and Harmon Field Road in Tryon until further notice. People are asked to avoid the area, as travel has become dangerous.

Tryon officials have also reported downed power lines on the highway. According to Duke Energy, around 100 residences along 176 currently lack electricity.

The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch for Polk County through Thursday morning, with the region expected to receive 3 to 6 inches of rain through then.

In addition to flash flooding of creeks and streams, landslides are also possible. Those living on mountainsides or living at the base of mountain should be ready to leave in the event of rising waters, while those considering travel on mountain roads are asked to postpone such trips until after the watch has expired.

This story will be updated when more information becomes available.