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US tornadoes: Clean-up begins after at least 32 killed in storms in South and Midwest

Tornado damage
Tornado damage Copyright Nick Rohlman/The Gazette via AP
Copyright Nick Rohlman/The Gazette via AP
By Euronews with AP
Published on Updated
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After a monster storm system with multiple tornadoes tore through the South and Midwest states in the US on Friday, the big clean-up has begun.

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Residents across a wide area of the US raced to assess the destruction from fierce storms that were the possible cause of dozens of tornadoes from the South and the Midwest into the Northeast which killed at least 32 people.

The storms tore a path through the Arkansas capital and also collapsed the roof of a packed concert venue in Illinois, shocking people throughout the region with the scope of the damage.

Confirmed or suspected tornadoes in at least eleven states destroyed homes and businesses, splintered trees and laid waste to neighbourhoods across a broad swathe of the country. 

"While we are still assessing the full extent of the damage, we know families across America are mourning the loss of loved ones, desperately waiting for news of others fighting for their lives, and sorting through the rubble of their homes and businesses," President Joe Biden said in a statement.

Biden earlier declared broad areas of the country major disaster areas, making federal resources and financial aid available for recovery.

At least five people were killed in Arkansas, which has already declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard.

Tennessee recorded at least 15 deaths, including nine in McNairy County, east of Memphis, according to Patrick Sheehan, Director of the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.

Other deaths from the storms that hit Friday night into Saturday were reported in Alabama and Mississippi.

Residents of Wynne, Arkansas, a community of about 8,000 people 80 kilometres west of Memphis, Tennessee, woke Saturday to find the high school's roof shredded and its windows blown out. At least four people died.

Ashley Macmillan said 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 they were unhurt.

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

Tornadoes can happen at any time in the United States, but they are most common between April and June.

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