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Deadly tornadoes rip through Arkansas and Illinois in the US killing at least 26 people

People survey storm damage in the Walnut Vallery area of west Little Rock
People survey storm damage in the Walnut Vallery area of west Little Rock Copyright Staci Vandagriff/AP
Copyright Staci Vandagriff/AP
By Euronews with AP
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A monster storm system has torn through the South and Midwest of the United States.

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Storms that dropped possibly dozens of tornadoes killed at least 26 people in small towns and big cities across the  American South and Midwest.

Confirmed or suspected tornadoes in at least eight states destroyed homes and businesses, splintered trees and laid waste to neighborhoods across a broad swath of the country. The dead included at least nine in one Tennessee county, four in the small town of Wynne, Arkansas, three in Sullivan, Indiana, and four in Illinois.

Other deaths from the storms that hit Friday night into Saturday were reported in Alabama and Mississippi, along with one near Little Rock, Arkansas, where city officials said more than 2,600 buildings were in a tornado's path.

Residents of Wynne, a community of about 8,000 people 50 miles (80 kilometers) west of Memphis, Tennessee, woke 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.

At least one person was killed and more than two dozen were hurt, some critically, in the Little Rock area, authorities said. The town of Wynne in northeastern Arkansas was also devastated, and officials reported two dead there, along with destroyed homes and people trapped in the debris. The storms also killed three people in Sullivan County, Indiana.

Authorities said a theatre roof collapsed during a tornado in Belvidere, Illinois, killing at least one person and injuring 28, five of them severely. The collapse occurred at the Apollo Theatre during a heavy metal concert in the town, located about 113 kilometres northwest of Chicago.

The Little Rock tornado tore first through neighbourhoods in the western part of the city and shredded a small shopping centre that included a Kroger grocery store. It then crossed the Arkansas River into North Little Rock and surrounding cities, where widespread damage was reported to homes, businesses and vehicles.

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