Storm chaser Brad Mack takes photos as low-level thunder
storm supercells pass over Bearden, Arkansas last week.
Tornadoes have killed at least seven people in the
south-central US. REUTERS/Gene Blevins
Tornadoes have ripped through the south-central United
States, killing at least 12 people in Arkansas and Oklahoma and
wiping out entire neighbourhoods, according to officials, as
rescue workers searched in darkness for survivors.
An aide to Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe said five people had
died in both Faulker and Pulaski counties, with another
fatality reported in White County.
Two people were killed in Vilonia, a small town in Faulkner
county in central Arkansas of some 3,800 people, and rescuers
were digging through the rubble of ruined buildings looking
for more victims, according to authorities there.
A spokesman for the Faulkner County Sheriff's office had said
there was a "mass casualty situation", and numerous injuries
were reported. TV footage showed houses ripped off their
foundations, with cars toppled on top of the rubble.
"Tonight, I walked around what was only hours earlier a
thriving neighborhood that is now gone. An entire
neighborhood of 50 or so homes has been destroyed - many
homes are completely gone except the foundation," U.S.
Representative Tim Griffin told Reuters.
"And there is more devastation like this in other parts of
Arkansas," Griffin said.
One person died when a tornado tore through Mayflower, 22
miles (35 km) northwest of Little Rock, officials there said.
In Mayflower, some of about 45 homes were destroyed in a
newer subdivision and a lumberyard was damaged, said Will
Elder, an alderman in the city of 2,300 people. He said at
least one person was injured.
The tornado passed through the east side of town, tearing up
trees and bringing down powerlines, making it difficult for
the emergency services to find stricken areas in the
darkness, and forcing authorities to shut down Interstate 40.
"It's extremely hazardous here right now," said Elder. "The
power lines are down, roads are blocked and they will have to
proceed with caution."
At least one person was killed in a tornado in a small
Oklahoma town in the northeast corner of the state, according
to Ottawa County Sheriff's Department spokesman Derek Derwin.
Media and the National Weather Service reported that two
people were killed.
That twister was spotted in Quapaw, 200 miles (322 km)
northeast of Oklahoma City, according to the weather service.
An Ottawa County, Oklahoma, police dispatcher said a search
and rescue effort was under way in Quapaw, but could not
confirm reports of fatalities.