Supporters of President Donald Trump have stormed the Capitol building in Washington where lawmakers were finalizing President-elect Joe Biden's victory at the ballot box. The proceedings were temporarily suspended but Congress reconvened after order was restored in the building.
The mob charged past police barricades and flooded onto the balcony. They later smashed their way into the Senate chambers, the House of Representatives and the offices of some lawmakers.
US media say one woman was shot and later died. The local police chief said that several officers were injured.
Washington's mayor has ordered a citywide curfew. Riot police and National Guard troops have been deployed to help secure the area.
Biden called the development a sign of American democracy under threat. "Our democracy is under unprecedented assault; unlike anything we've seen in modern times. It must end now. I call on this mob to pull back and allow the work of democracy to go forward," Biden said.
Trump had called for a massive protest in the capital on Wednesday. But he has now released a video message asking the crowd to go home and repeating his baseless claims of voter fraud.
Trump said, "I know your pain. I know you're hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election, and everyone knows it, especially the other side. But you have to go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law and order. We have to respect our great people in law and order."
The joint session of Congress was convened to count the votes of 538 electors chosen from each state -- officially certifying the results of the November election.
The proceedings are usually completed quickly, but they were suspended and members of Congress were evacuated from the building.
Biden's victory is expected to be finalized once the proceedings resume, since it is unlikely that Congress will approve any objections by Republican lawmakers.