Death Toll Soars To 26 As Tornadoes Tear Through US

Death Toll Soars To 26 As Tornadoes Tear Through US
At least 26 people have been killed and dozens more injured after storms and tornadoes tore through towns and cities across Southern and Midwestern parts of the United States.

Several tornadoes touched down on Friday night across at least eight states, laying waste to homes and businesses and splintering trees, as part of a sprawling storm system that brought wildfires to the southern plains states and blizzard conditions to the upper Midwest.

Tens of thousands lost power as the storms smothered a swath of the country home to some 85 million people.

The dead included nine in the state of Tennessee, four in neighbouring Arkansas, and four in Illinois. Other deaths were reported in the states of Indiana, Alabama and Mississippi.

In Arkansas, Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders declared a state of emergency and activated 100 members of the National Guard to help local authorities respond.

Four of the deaths in Arkansas were reported in the town of Wynne, a community of about 8,000 people. Stunned residents of the town woke on Saturday to find the high school’s roof shredded and its windows blown out. Huge trees lay on the ground, their stumps reduced to nubs. Broken walls, windows and roofs pocked homes and businesses.

Debris and memories of regular life lay scattered inside the shells of homes and on lawns: clothing, insulation, roofing paper, toys, splintered furniture, a pick-up truck with its windows shattered.

Ashley Macmillan told The Associated Press news agency that she, her husband and their children huddled with their dogs in a small bathroom as a tornado passed, “praying and saying goodbye to each other, because we thought we were dead”. A falling tree seriously damaged their home, but no one in the family was hurt.

“We could feel the house shaking, we could hear loud noises, dishes rattling. And then it just got calm,” she said.

More than 530,000 homes and businesses in the affected area lacked power at midday Saturday, at least 200,000 of them in Ohio, according to

The sprawling storm system also brought wildfires to the southern Plains, with nearly 100 new ones reported Friday in Oklahoma, according to the state forest service.

Biden promised to rebuild in Mississippi as meteorologists warned millions of people to brace for enormous storms brewing over at least 15 states in the Midwest and southern United States, with more than 85 million people under weather advisories on Friday.