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US: Death toll rises after states hit by powerful tornadoes

April 2, 2023

A massive storm system that brought numerous tornadoes has killed at least 21 people across the United States. High winds are still expected as the storms move northeast.

A view of damage as residents clean up after the devastating tornadoes in Little Rock, Arkansas
Officials are still trying to determine the full scale of the damage after the violent stormsImage: Peter Zay/AA/picture alliance

The number of people killed by a violent storm that triggered numerous powerful tornadoes across several south-central and eastern US states on Friday has surpassed 20, officials said late on Saturday.

Some 14 deaths were reported in Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Indiana and Illinois, as well as another seven deaths in the state of Tennessee.

One of the worst hit areas was the state capital of Arkansas, Little Rock, where a powerful tornado passed through, leaving scattered debris in its wake.

Tornadoes hit US with destructive force

The storm system also sparked wildfires in the southern plains and is expected to bring hail and blizzard conditions to the northeastern US, including parts of Pennsylvania and New York.

Experts said they will need days to determine the full extent of the storms and the exact number of tornadoes produced.

Widespread devastation

Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders declared a state of emergency and brought in the national guard to help with recovery. She also said that President Joe Biden had pledged expedited federal aid.

Several people were killed in collapsed buildings in Illinois, with tornadoes deemed the most likely culprit. Tornado warnings had also been declared in Mississippi where 25 people were killed by a twister last week.

People survey storm damage in the Walnut Vallery area of west Little Rock, Arkansas
Little Rock, Arkansas, was one of the cities worst hit by the deadly storm systemImage: Staci Vandagriff/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/AP/picture alliance

Property damage across the large swathes of the US that were hit by the storms was also extensive. Over 610,000 homes had been left without power by Saturday, according to the poweroutage.us website.

Officials in Tennessee warned that Tuesday could see a repeat of the same weather conditions from Friday.

High wind warnings for several Mid-Atlantic states were in effect as the storm system moved northeast on Saturday afternoon.

"Maximum wind gusts could approach 60 miles (100 kilometers) per hour throughout much of the Appalachians, upper Ohio Valley and Mid-Atlantic today," the National Weather System warned.

Tornados in US off to early start, meteorologist says

ab/sms (AFP, AP)