US & Canada

Hurricane creates rare extreme waves in California

A swimmer catches a wave at "The Wedge" wave break in Newport Beach, California 27 August 2014

Waves as high as 20ft (6m) in southern California have damaged waterfront homes, knocked out pier pilings and attracted scores of surfers.

The waves are the result of swells produced by Hurricane Marie in the Pacific, 800 miles (1,300km) west of Mexico's Baja California peninsula.

Dangerous wave conditions are expected to continue through Thursday despite a weakened storm.

One person has died while surfing on a beach in Malibu.

But it is unclear if the death was caused by the surf or a medical condition.

Despite the danger, thousands of spectators lined the Wedge, a popular surf spot in Newport Beach, to watch surfboarders take on the waves, town officials said.

The swells are the largest seen in southern California since a pair of hurricanes hit the Pacific within weeks of each other in 1997, National Weather Service weather specialist Stuart Ceto said.

Image caption Extra lifeguards were posted along The Wedge in Newport Beach
Image caption Some low-lying streets in the town of Seal Beach were flooded from the waves
Image caption The pier in Malibu has been closed amid broken pilings