Thursday, April 28, 2011

Obama declares state of emergency as death toll from storms


Wasteland: Overnight tornadoes leave part of Pratt City, a suburb of Birmingham, Alabama, in ruins. Houses were reduced to rubble while cars were tossed about like toys before being slammed into the ground by the deadly twisters

Deaths in six states, most in Alabama

Alabama university town of Tuscaloosa one of worst hit areas and amazing video shows tornado striking

1974 record of 148 tornadoes could have been surpassed as more than 160 tornadoes reported

Death toll feared to rise above that of the 1974 storms when 310 people died in one day

Louisiana police officer killed in Mississippi when a tree fell onto his tent as he shielded his young daughter

Scene of destruction: A car lies overturned and buildings are reduced to firewood in Tuscaloosa, after a mile-wide tornado barrelled through destroying everything in its path

A series of devastating tornadoes have obliterated large swaths of land from Mississippi to Georgia, killing at least 202 people in six states, wiping out homes and businesses and causing a nuclear power plant to use back-up generators.

The death toll, already staggering, continues to rise almost every few minutes as rescue workers pull bodies from the rubble. There are fears it could rise higher than the death toll recorded in 1974 when 310 people lost their lives in a single day when violent storms rocked several states.

Stormy skies: A police officer walks under a tangle of power lines and snarled signs after a tornado swept through Ringgold, Georgia

There were reports of more than 160 twisters crashing through the Southern states right up to the Northern states, according to the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center

There were 128 dead in Alabama alone, the state emergency management agency confirmed. It was the worst hit state that saw an enormous F5-category tornado rip through Birmingham yesterday leaving a path of devastation in its wake.

'We were in the bathroom holding on to each other and holding on to dear life,' said Samantha Nail, who lives in a blue-collar subdivision in the Birmingham suburb of Pleasant Grove.

What's left: Homes and businesses along McFarland Boulevard are completely destroyed in Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Remains: Residents survey the destruction after a tornado hit Pratt City. A wave of severe storms laced with tornadoes strafed the South

There the storm slammed heavy pickup trucks into ditches and obliterated tidy brick houses, leaving behind a mess of mattresses, electronics and children's toys scattered across a grassy plain where dozens used to live.

'If it wasn't for our concrete walls, our home would be gone like the rest of them,' she added.

Map of destruction: The red triangles show the 161 reports of tornadoes on Wednesday from the Southern to the Northern states

In Tuscaloosa, a city of more than 83,000 and home to the University of Alabama, a mile-wide twister barrelled through late yesterday afternoon, tossing houses and cars into the air like they were toys. Homes were reduced to fire wood and uprooted trees littered the streets. It looked more like a war zone in the end.

The city's police and other emergency services were devastated, Mayor Walt Maddox said. The storm had, he added, been 'a devastating blow.' Around 300,000 people are without power.

Obliterated: John Boxmeyer climbs through what used to be the living room of a friend's home, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, as they try to salvage anything from the rubble

President Barack Obama said he had spoken with Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and approved his request for emergency federal assistance, including search and rescue assets. About 1,400 National Guard soldiers were being deployed around the state.

'Our hearts go out to all those who have been affected by this devastation, and we commend the heroic efforts of those who have been working tirelessly to respond to this disaster,' Obama said in a statement.

Gone: Residents and others walk by the remains of the First Baptist Church in Smithville, Mississippi, following a tornado that flattened the town

Trapped: Rescue workers search for casualties after the deadly tornado touched down in Birmingham, Alabama on Wednesday

Funnel: A tornado moves through Tuscaloosa on Wednesday. A wave of severe storms splintering buildings across parts of the Alabama university town

Emotional: Michael Dunn is hugged by his mother Patricia Dunn as they stand in the road that led to his house which was completely destroyed after a tornado touched down on Wednesady in Concord, Alabama

Flattened: A home and car in the Forest Lake neighbourhood of Tuscaloosa are destroyed after a tornado ripped through it

Tornado in Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Tuscaloosa Tornado and Birmingham Tornado on 4/27/11

Tornado roars through University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa 4/27/2011

source: dailymail

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