1 TORNADOES KILLS OVER 200 IN UNITED STATES on Fri Apr 29, 2011 6:50 am
Hundreds dead as tornadoes rip through southern US states
Death toll exceeds 220, with more than 100 killed in Alabama alone and dozens in other states
Tornadoes and violent storms have ripped through seven southern US states, killing more than 220 people as they flattened neighbourhoods, overturned cars and toppled trees and power lines.
In the deadliest series of tornadoes the US has seen in nearly four decades, 131 people were killed in Alabama alone. The Alabama governor, Robert Bentley, said the state had suffered "massive destruction of property" and warned the death toll was likely to rise. Fifteen people died in Tuscaloosa, a city of 93,000 and home to the University of Alabama. Sections of the city were destroyed and the city's infrastructure devastated, the mayor said.
State officials reported 32 people killed in Mississippi, 30 in Tennessee, 11 in Arkansas, 10 in Georgia, eight in Virginia and two in Louisiana. The clusters of powerful tornadoes – more than 100 in total – combined with storms to cut a swath of destruction from west to east over several days.
The Browns Ferry nuclear power plant in Alabama was expected to be shut for days or weeks as workers repaired damaged transmission lines. Up to a million people in Alabama were left without power.
In Tuscaloosa news footage showed paramedics lifting a child out of a flattened home and many neighbouring buildings reduced to rubble. A hospital said its emergency room had admitted about 100 people and treated 400.
"What we faced today was massive damage on a scale we have not seen in Tuscaloosa in quite some time," the mayor, Walter Maddox, told reporters, adding that he expected his city's death toll to rise.
"This could be the worst tornado in Alabama's history," said meteorologist Josh Nagelberg of AccuWeather.com.
Hardest hit was Birmingham, Alabama's biggest city, where at least 26 people were confirmed dead as of late Wednesday. There were 13 in Walker county and 11 in Jefferson county, including a child whose parents were missing, as well as two in St Clair county. The severe weather started at about 5.30am with winds of up to 100 miles an hour ripping through parts of the city, toppling trees and knocking out power. By nightfall power was out to 370,000 customers statewide and more than 170,000 in the Birmingham metropolitan area.
Forecasters had been warning of the storms for days, so schools were shut and many took the day off work to watch tornadoes live on television.
Barack Obama said he had spoken to Bentley and approved his request for emergency federal assistance such as search and rescue.
"Our hearts go out to all those who have been affected by this devastation and we commend the heroic efforts of those who have been working tirelessly to respond to this disaster," Obama said.
Around Tuscaloosa traffic was hampered by fallen trees and power lines. Some drivers abandoned their cars.
Maddox said authorities were having trouble communicating with each other as 1,400 national guard soldiers were deployed around the state. The flashing lights of emergency vehicles could be seen on darkened streets all over town and some were using winches to remove overturned vehicles from the side of the road.
In Huntsville meteorologists found themselves in the path of a tornado and had to evacuate the national weather service office.
In Mississippi a police officer was killed when a tree fell on to his tent as he shielded his young daughter with his body, said Kim Korthuis, a national parks ranger. The girl was not hurt.
In eastern Tennessee a woman was killed by falling trees in her trailer in Chattanooga. Just outside the city, in Tiftonia, what appeared to be a tornado struck at the base of the tourist peak Lookout Mountain. Tops were snapped off trees and insulation and metal roof panels littered the ground.
man this is one of the reasons why I do not want to live anywhere near tornado ally, ITS FUCKING SCARY bro, RIP to the people that died earlier today, may their families find comfort in such a horrible tragedy