UK & World News

  • 28 April 2014, 16:14

More Tornado Warnings After Deadly US Strikes

At least 17 people have been killed and many more injured in the United States after a powerful storm system saw tornadoes rip through Arkansas and Oklahoma.

A dozen or more twisters tore through central and southern parts of the country, decimating buildings, overturning trucks and bringing down trees and power lines.

National Guard troops have been mobilised in the worst hit areas and rescue workers have been searching debris for victims, as forecasters warned more twisters were on their way.

Tornadoes also hit in Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri and Louisiana, causing damage and injuries.

President Barack Obama, who is currently in the Philippines, sent his condolences to those affected and pledged any assistance necessary.

"Your country will be there to help you recover and rebuild, as long as it takes," he said.

The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management said a large tornado which formed outside Little Rock killed 16 people as it carved a 30-mile path of destruction through the state.

It was the largest of several tornadoes created by a powerful storm system.

Another twister which hit the town of Quapaw, Oklahoma, left one person dead and at least six people injured.

It then continued into Kansas, destroying up to 70 homes and injuring 25 people in the city of Baxter Springs. 

In Mayflower, Arkansas, one person was killed and 45 homes were destroyed as a tornado swept through.

City alderman Will Elder said: "It's extremely hazardous here right now. The power lines are down, roads are blocked and they (emergency services) will have to proceed with caution."

James Firestone, mayor of the Arkansas town of Vilonia said: "It's chaos right now."

He said the downtown area "seems like it's completely levelled", adding: "There are a few buildings partially standing, gas lines are spewing and fire lines are down. We've had some casualties."

Firefighters from nearby cities, as well as National Guard troops, were heading to the town to help, with the county sheriff's office reporting a "mass casualty situation".

Representative Tim Griffin said: "Tonight, I walked around what was only hours earlier a thriving neighbourhood that is now gone.

"An entire neighbourhood of 50 or so homes has been destroyed.

"Many homes are completely gone except the foundation and there is more devastation like this in other parts of Arkansas."

Writing on Twitter, Arkansas governor Mike Beebe added: "It's been a truly awful night for many families, neighbourhoods and communities, but Arkansans always step up to help each other recover."