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Violent US storm kills more than 20 people

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2023-04-02T10:45:08Z

Teachers and students of an Arkansas high school felt torn between gratitude and devastation on Saturday (April 1), as they visited their school that was badly damaged by a tornado the day before, shortly after they were told to go home early to avoid the hazardous weather.

A violent storm packing high winds and heavy rains ripped through Southern and Midwestern sections of the United States as it headed east on Saturday, leaving at least 22 dead and scores injured, according to officials and media reports.

At least five people were killed in Arkansas, according to officials, as first responders sifted through debris for more possible victims after tornadoes sliced through the state on Friday.

Officials also reported four deaths in Illinois and three in Indiana.

Meanwhile, the Tennessee Department of Health confirmed seven weather-related deaths in McNairy County, at the Mississippi border. Tennessee Emergency Management Agency Director Patrick Sheehan said the number of people injured and damaged structures in several counties were not yet determined.

Just south of the Tennessee border in Madison County, Alabama, 90-year-old Ovie Lasater was killed when a tornado destroyed her home, county coroner Tyler Berryhill told Reuters.

Fox News reported another death in Pontotoc County in neighboring Mississippi.

In Illinois, three people were killed in Crawford County after the collapse of a residential structure, the state Emergency Management Agency said.

These were in addition to the 50-year-old man who died in Belvidere, a city in northern Illinois, after a roof collapsed at a theater with 260 people inside. Dan Zaccard, a senior emergency management official in Boone County, said on Saturday that the incident left 40 people injured.

The crowd at the city’s Apollo Theatre was attending a concert featuring the heavy-metal group Morbid Angel, which was on its “Tour of Terror.”

One person was killed in Sussex County, Delaware, after a line of powerful storms tore through the region on Saturday night, an ABC News affiliate reported.

The National Weather Service on Saturday warned of thunderstorms moving across the eastern third of the United States, likely resulting in power outages and downed trees from winds with gusts over 60 mph (100 kph).

The twisters sheared roofs and walls from many buildings in Arkansas, flipped over vehicles and downed trees and power lines in Little Rock and large areas east and northeast of the state capital, officials said.

The blast of extreme spring weather swept much of the United States on Friday, menacing the nation’s midsection from Texas to the Great Lakes with thunderstorms and tornados.

Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Saturday said there were five confirmed dead in the state.

“Right now, we have five confirmed fatalities. We have a couple of others that have been reported, but we do not have confirmation from local law enforcement on the ground. And, so, awaiting that. But right now, statewide, we have five confirmed fatalities,” she said.

Four of the Arkansas fatalities were reported in Wynne, about 100 miles (160 km) east of Little Rock, Cross County Coroner Eli Long said.

One person was killed and more than 50 people were hospitalized in North Little Rock, Pulaski County spokeswoman Madeline Roberts told the Washington Post.

U.S. President Joe Biden spoke with Huckabee Sanders and the mayors of Little Rock and Wynne, the White House said in a statement. He also spoke with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Deanne Criswell.

Huckabee Sanders said Biden and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, in phone calls on Saturday, offered federal government support.

“Anything that Arkansas needs, they have assured us that those resources will be here and on the ground,” she said at a news conference.

In Sullivan County, Indiana, three people were killed, Indiana State Police Sergeant Matt Ames said. A state of emergency was declared for the affected areas, Sheriff Jason Bobbitt said on Facebook.

The turbulent weather occurred one week after a swarm of thunderstorms unleashed a deadly tornado that devastated the Mississippi town of Rolling Fork, destroying many of the community’s 400 homes and killing 26 people.

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People laugh and celebrate after freeing a vehicle from a collapsed roof in the aftermath of a tornado, after a monster storm system tore through the South and Midwest on Friday in Little Rock, Arkansas, U.S. April 1, 2023. REUTERS/Cheney Orr

An aerial view of a damaged building in the aftermath of a tornado, after a monster storm system tore through the South and Midwest on Friday in Little Rock, Arkansas, U.S. April 1, 2023. REUTERS/Cheney Orr

A man walks a dog through a neighborhood severely damaged in the aftermath of a tornado, after a monster storm system tore through the South and Midwest on Friday in Little Rock, Arkansas, U.S. April 1, 2023. REUTERS/Cheney Orr

The view from a bedroom in the Wilson household in the aftermath of a tornado, after a monster storm system tore through the South and Midwest on Friday in Little Rock, Arkansas, U.S. April 1, 2023. REUTERS/Cheney Orr

Utility workers repair electric lines at dusk, the day after a tornado hit Sullivan, Indiana, U.S., April 1, 2023. REUTERS/Jon Cherry

A tree branch is seen impaled through the ceiling as Ester Johnson-El, 62, inspects the wreckage of her bedroom where she rode out the storm with her nephew, grandson, and her grandson?s mother, in the aftermath of a tornado, after a monster storm system tore through the South and Midwest on Friday, in Wynne, Arkansas, U.S. April 1, 2023. REUTERS/Cheney Orr

Destroyed and damaged homes are seen on the southern side of the city the day after a tornado hit Sullivan, Indiana, U.S. April 1, 2023. REUTERS/Jon Cherry

A view of a vehicle impaled by a piece of telephone pole in the aftermath of a tornado, after a monster storm system tore through the South and Midwest on Friday, in Wynne, Arkansas, U.S. April 1, 2023. REUTERS/Cheney Orr

Ester Johnson-El, 62, embraces her great granddaughter She-Keelie, 6, in front of the wreckage of her home after seeing each other for the fist time since the tornado, after a monster storm system tore through the South and Midwest on Friday, in Wynne, Arkansas, U.S. April 1, 2023. REUTERS/Cheney Orr

Jodee Minks holds memorabilia and cries while looking at the destroyed school she owns the day after a tornado hit Sullivan, Indiana, U.S. April 1, 2023. REUTERS/Jon Cherry

A person stands inside of a destroyed convenience store the day after a tornado hit Sullivan, Indiana, U.S. April 1, 2023. REUTERS/Jon Cherry

A man prays with Debbie Lowdermilk and Jodee Minks at the sight of their destroyed school the day after a tornado hit Sullivan, Indiana, U.S. April 1, 2023. REUTERS/Jon Cherry

A damaged vehicle is seen near a destroyed house the day after a tornado hit Sullivan, Indiana, U.S. April 1, 2023. REUTERS/Jon Cherry

Clema Smith, who was trapped and rescued from the rubble, walks past the wreckage of her home in the aftermath of a tornado, after a monster storm system tore through the South and Midwest on Friday, in Wynne, Arkansas, U.S. April 1, 2023. REUTERS/Cheney Orr

An aerial view of the damage following a tornado in Wynne, Arkansas, U.S. April 1, 2023. REUTERS/Cheney Orr

An aerial view of the damage following a tornado in Wynne, Arkansas, U.S. April 1, 2023. REUTERS/Cheney Orr

Steve Headley, 51, crawled through the wreckage of his tenants’ home to help retrieve their belongings in the aftermath of a tornado, after a monster storm system tore through the South and Midwest on Friday, in Wynne, Arkansas, U.S. April 1, 2023. Steve owns 45 properties in the area, 17 of which have been fully destroyed and several more severely damaged. REUTERS/Cheney Orr

An aerial view shows destroyed homes in the aftermath of a tornado, after a monster storm system tore through the South and Midwest on Friday, in Wynne, Arkansas, U.S. April 1, 2023. REUTERS/Cheney Orr

A view of destroyed buildings following the tornado in Little Rock, Arkansas, U.S., March 31, 2023 in this picture obtained from social media. @ZHarris07/@thezaneharris/via REUTERS

A view of destroyed buildings following the tornado in Little Rock, Arkansas, U.S., March 31, 2023 in this picture obtained from social media. @ZHarris07/@thezaneharris/via REUTERS

Debbie Lowdermilk holds photographs as she reacts while looking at the destroyed school she owns the day after a tornado hit Sullivan, Indiana, U.S. April 1, 2023. REUTERS/Jon Cherry

People look at a destroyed decommissioned helicopter that that was displayed at the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) post 2459 the day after a tornado hit Sullivan, Indiana, U.S. April 1, 2023. REUTERS/Jon Cherry

Debbie Carter, a Sullivan resident, displays a photograph she found in a field near her home the day after a tornado hit Sullivan, Indiana, U.S. April 1, 2023. REUTERS/Jon Cherry

People react after the roof of Apollo Theatre collapses during a concert following severe storm, in Belvidere, Illinois, U.S. March 31, 2023 in this still image obtained from a social media video. Anthony Nicosia/via REUTERS

An aerial view of the damage following a tornado in Wynne, Arkansas, U.S. April 1, 2023. REUTERS/Cheney Orr

An aerial view of the damage following a tornado in Wynne, Arkansas, U.S. April 1, 2023. REUTERS/Cheney Orr

A view of destroyed buildings following the tornado in Little Rock, Arkansas, U.S., March 31, 2023 in this picture obtained from social media. @ZHarris07/@thezaneharris/via REUTERS

A view of destroyed buildings following the tornado in Little Rock, Arkansas, U.S., March 31, 2023 in this picture obtained from social media. @ZHarris07/@thezaneharris/via REUTERS

A view of fallen tree branches strewn across a street following a tornado in Wapello County, Iowa, U.S., March 31, 2023, in this picture obtained from social media. Katie Feeney/via REUTERS

People try to sift through debris from a collapsed roof amid a storm in Belvidere, Illinois, U.S., March 31, 2023, in this screen grab obtained from a social media video. Jessica Bahena Hernandez/via REUTERS

A view of tornadic funnel swirls across the field in Wapello County, Iowa, U.S., March 31, 2023, in this picture obtained from social media. Katie Feeney/via REUTERS

Emergency workers stand near an overturned truck on the road following a tornado in Whiteland, Indiana, U.S., April 1, 2023, in this screen grab obtained from a social media video. Joel Sparks/via REUTERS

An overturned truck is seen on the road following a tornado in Whiteland, Indiana, U.S., April 1, 2023, in this screen grab obtained from a social media video. Joel Sparks/via REUTERS
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