The death toll from the major storm system that battered the south-central and eastern US with devastating winds and powerful tornadoes rose to 21, while dozens more were injured, officials said Saturday.
A spokesman for the emergency management agency in Tennessee, one of the states worst hit by the storm since Friday, confirmed seven storm-related cables to AFP.
Over fourteen deaths were reported in Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama in the south, and Indiana and Illinois in the Midwest. The weather system for Saturday predicted thunderstorms, hail and strong winds for the east coast of the US by late Sunday.
On Friday, the storm sent several tornadoes – some of exceptional size and power – sweeping across Arkansas, at the head of Chapter Rock, where at least five people were killed, a state official said.
Luce revealed a great deal of damage, with several houses torn down, cars overturned, and trees uprooted from the ground.
Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders declared a state of emergency and brought back the National Guard to help with recovery efforts.
He said he had spoken to President Joe Biden, who promised to provide federal aid.
The town of Wynne in northern Arkansas was “striking damage from east to west,” Mayor Jennifer Hobbs told CNN.
The National Weather Service has also issued tornado warnings for several other states, from as far north as Iowa to the southern state of Mississippi, where a tornado last week killed 25 people and caused extensive property damage.
Disaster struck the Illinois town of Belvidere, outside of Chicago, when a heavy storm caused the roof and part of the front of the Apollo Theater to collapse while heavy metal acts were playing inside.
TV footage showed emergency personnel attending to injured concertgoers on stretchers, while video posted on social media showed debris on the floor of the concert venue and a gap in the roof.
Belvidere Fire Chief Shawn Schadle reported one death and 28 injuries, including five people hospitalized with serious injuries.
In Crawford County, in southern Illinois, three people died when a house collapsed, likely from the impact of the tornado, said Kevin Sur, a spokesman for the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.
In the neighboring state of Indiana, three people died in the storm in Sullivan County, on the border of Illinois, several US media outlets reported, citing local authorities.
Overnight tornadoes also claimed one life in Pontotoc County, Mississippi, and one in Madison County, Alabama, emergency officials reported Saturday.
More than 610,000 homes were without power Saturday, according to the poweroutage.us website.
As the storm tracked east-northeasterly, the most severe weather conditions were in the states of Ohio and Pennsylvania on Saturday afternoon.
Several mid-Atlantic states were under high wind warnings.
“The storm’s maximum winds could reach 60 miles (100 kilometers) per hour across much of the Appalachians, the upper Ohio valley and today’s Mid-Atlantic,” the National Weather System warned.
Tornadoes are common in the United States, especially in the Midwest and South.
President Biden on Friday visited the Mississippi city of Rolling Fork, one of the worst hit areas in last week’s tornado.
In December 2021, tornadoes killed about 80 people in Kentucky.
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