News / USA

Death Toll From US Tornadoes Rises Past 300

Residents search through what is left of their homes after a tornado hit Pleasant Grove west of downtown Birmingham , Alabama, a day earlier, Apr 28 2011
Residents search through what is left of their homes after a tornado hit Pleasant Grove west of downtown Birmingham , Alabama, a day earlier, Apr 28 2011

Multimedia

Audio

U.S. authorities say the number of people killed in a series of tornadoes and thunderstorms across the southern United States has risen to at least 305, making it the country's deadliest tornado outbreak in almost four decades.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley says the tornadoes that struck his state on Wednesday killed at least 195 people, by far the highest toll of the eight southern states hit by deadly storms.  Speaking Thursday, he said Alabama's final death toll may not be known for another day or two.

U.S. President Barack Obama said the loss of life has been "heartbreaking, especially in Alabama."  In a White House address, he said the damage from the storms has been "catastrophic" and promised the federal government will do "everything it can" to help the region recover.

The National Weather Service says about 150 tornados tore through parts the southern states of Mississippi and Alabama on Wednesday.  Alabama's city of Tuscaloosa was one of the hardest hit. Several buildings were flattened, and many city operations are unable to function.

Water dripped through the roof of the grocery store Mike Honeysutt manages in Tuscaloosa. He watched as it was destroyed.

"The power went out and the building started shaking, the windows were shaking and part of the roof was flying off the building, the windows came into the front and then the wind started blowing stuff of the shelves," said Honeysutt.

Honeysutt said the tornado was gone 15 or 20 seconds later. The damage was not, however, and many people are missing among the rubble.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley has deployed 2,000 National Guard troops to assist in search-and-rescue efforts.

"We do have major destruction in the state, especially in the northern part of Alabama," said Bentley. "We have 131 confirmed fatalities at the present time. We expect that number to rise today. In fact, we are sure it will. There may be as many as a half million to a million people in the state without power at this time."

Bentley also reported the Browns Ferry nuclear power plant in northern Alabama automatically shut down after it lost power to its three units.  The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said the plant's safety systems are operating as needed.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has deployed teams to the region to assist in response efforts, after U.S. President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency in Alabama.

Bentley said Alabama was as prepared as it could be to face tornados, with winds averaging  400 to 500 kilometers per hour. That measure is the most destructive on the Fujita Tornado Damage Scale.

"When you have a catastrophic F 4 and F 5 tornado that hits, there is not much you can do to change the outcome of that," he said. "But we did have a good response from the weather bureau and we have had a good response from our Emergency Management Agency. We were prepared."

FEMA Director Craig Fugate said the violent streak of tornados that have struck the southern United States in recent weeks is not uncommon.

"Actually what we are seeing is springtime. Unfortunately many people think of Oklahoma as tornado ally and forget that the southeast United States actually has a history of actually longer and more powerful tornados that stay on the ground longer," said Fugate.

Severe weather that began Monday also caused dozens of fatalities in Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia and Arkansas, making it the deadliest series of storms to hit the southern U.S. region in four decades.

You May Like

Israelis Quietly Expand Enclave in Palestinian District of Jerusalem

Estimated 500 settlers, armed or protected by paramilitary police, live in Silwan among 50,000 Palestinians More

Video US, Iran Face Similar Challenges in Syrian Fight Against IS

Both Washington, Tehran back fighters battling Islamic State militants in Iraq -- but in Syria they support opposing sides in country’s civil war More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid