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Pattaya Daily News

29 April 2011 :: 12:04:30 pm 53356

US Tornadoes Kill At Least 295

At least 295 lives were reported after the devastating tornadoes that began on Thursday 21 April, striking across eight American southern states which were crippled by ferocious spring storms
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Hundreds of thousands of Americans were shocked and distraught as they face the deadliest tornado tragedy to strike the country since 310 people were killed in 1974 “Super Outbreak”.

The overall toll in each of the eight states includes 195 deaths in Alabama, 33 in Mississippi, 33 in Tennessee, 14 in Georgia, 12 in Arkansas, 5 five Virginia, 2 in Missouri and one in Kentucky, according to state officials.

President Barack Obama was scheduled to visit the worst tornadoes-stricken area Friday for a first-hand look at the unfolding tragedy.

“The loss of life has been heartbreaking, especially in Alabama,” Mr Obama said at the White House, describing the disaster as “nothing short of catastrophic”.

The storms “took mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, friends and neighbours – even entire communities,” he said, vowing to rush federal assistance to those most in need.

States of emergency were declared from central Oklahoma to Georgia on the eastern coastlines. National Guard including 2000 troops in Alabama was called for rescue mission and clean-up operations.

“We had a major catastrophic event here in Alabama with the outbreak of numerous long-track tornadoes,” said Governor Bentley, who declared a major disaster for the state, where up to a million people were left without power.

Emergency rescuers searched for survivors through toppled trees, twisted billboards and ruined homes, while thousands of homeless people spend the night in temporary shelters.

“There were direct hits on two towns, Hackleburg and Dadeville in Alabama,” National Weather Service (NWS) meteorologist in Alabama, John De Block, said.

Most of the homes in Hackleburg, population 1500, were built on slab foundations and “the slabs have been swept clean in several locations,” he said, adding that the town was “90 per cent destroyed.”

More than 160 tornadoes were reported on Wednesday alone and if more than 148 are confirmed that would set a new record for a 24-hour period.

In Tuscaloosa town, west-central Alabama, a population around 100,000, there were 36 confirmed fatalities and at least 600 people injured and dozens unaccounted for.

It was also a dark day for Birmingham, Alabama’s largest city with more than a million residents. Mayor William Bell spoke of “whole neighbourhoods of housing, just completely gone. Churches, gone. Businesses, gone”.

Disbelieving Birmingham survivors count their blessings while others were distressed over the loss of their loved ones or homes.

Several eastern states were still on tornado and severe thunderstorm alert on Thursday, while another major storm system was forecast to bring heavy rain and high winds on Saturday.

Photo : Internet   Category : World News

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