Severe storms and tornadoes have claimed at least 14 more lives in the central United States, just two days after scores of people were killed in the state of Missouri in the deadliest tornado to hit the nation in more than 60 years.
Emergency officials reported the latest deaths in the states of Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas as at least three dozen more tornadoes ripped through the region Tuesday and into the early hours of Wednesday. The storms, accompanied by baseball-sized hail, toppled trees, crushed cars and tore apart a rural fire station.
The latest tornadoes bypassed the devastated city of Joplin, Missouri that was struck Sunday by the single deadliest tornado to hit the U.S. since 1947. The death toll in the city of 50,000 residents has hit 123 and is expected to climb further. Local authorities said about 1,500 people are unaccounted for, but cautioned that the number likely includes many people who have not been able to reach friends and family because of spotty cellphone service.
The death toll from the tornadoes this week, along with more than 300 killed by other tornadoes in recent weeks in the southern U.S., has pushed the year's total to more than 500, the highest number of U.S. tornado deaths since 1953, when 519 were recorded.
U.S. President Barack Obama says he will travel to Joplin on Sunday. Speaking during a visit to London Tuesday, Mr. Obama pledged that the federal government will use all available resources to help the victims recover and rebuild.
Rescue workers in the Missouri city continued to search through the devastation on Wednesday in hopes of finding more trapped survivors. Cheers erupted Tuesday when volunteers heard that another person had been found alive.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.