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Americas

Dozens killed as tornadoes tear through southeast US

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-04-30

At least 35 people were killed in tornadoes that ravaged neighbourhoods across six states, US media said Tuesday, as some 70 million more people braced for severe weather conditions and forecasters predicted hail the size of baseballs.

In hard-hit Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee, at least 17 people were killed Monday, CNN said. Another 18 were reported dead in Arkansas, Iowa and Oklahoma on Sunday.

But forecasters warned that more severe weather was moving in, and set to hit an estimated 70 million people across the region.

The National Weather Service said that "severe thunderstorms" were expected in eastern and southern Mississippi, western Alabama and extreme eastern Louisiana.

It also forecast tornadoes, baseball-sized hail storms, and gale-forces winds.

Among the dead was University of Alabama student John Servati, who perished saving his girlfriend from a wall that collapsed and would have otherwise crushed her, The Clarion-Ledger newspaper reported.

People in Tupelo, Mississippi sifted through the rubble of their destroyed homes and businesses.

Some grilled hotdogs and hamburgers to hand out for free to those in need, while young people helped remove debris and fallen tree limbs from elderly people's homes and yards.

"I am just overwhelmed -- the damage is overwhelming, of course, but the outpouring of people to lend a hand and give out water and food, it's just tremendous," said Denise Hardin of the Tupelo Housing Authority that manages many neighbourhood properties.

The tornado that ripped through Louisville, Mississippi was given a preliminary rating of at least EF4 by national forecasters.

At 166-200 miles (265-320 kilometres) per hour, that would make the storm one of the strongest to strike the United States this year.

The National Weather Service said the threat of tornadoes will last for several days as a strong weather system interacts with a large area of instability across the region.

“This is a multi-day event and today is the second day of significant tornado risk and unfortunately, probably not the last,” said Bill Bunting, operations chief at the National Weather Service’s Storm Predictions Center in Norman, Oklahoma.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

Date created : 2014-04-28

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