News / USA

US Tornadoes Killed at Least 350

Calvin Smith of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, pushes his bike past tornado demolished homes in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, April 29, 2011
Calvin Smith of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, pushes his bike past tornado demolished homes in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, April 29, 2011

U.S. authorities say the death toll has risen to at least 350 from this week's tornadoes and severe weather.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says Wednesday was the second deadliest single day of tornadoes in U.S. history. It was topped only by the 747 killed in a series of twisters that struck through the central part of the country in 1925.  

Survivors and volunteers across seven southern states continued their searches Saturday through rubble for possessions and signs of people still missing.

U.S. President Barack Obama surveyed the devastation Friday in Alabama, where at least 254 people were killed and whole portions of communities were flattened. The president said he had "never seen devastation like this. It is heartbreaking."

Obama consoled survivors and talked with state and local officials about the rescue and cleanup efforts. He pledged to "make sure" the storm-damaged region is "not forgotten." He said "maximum federal help" would be provided.

President Obama signed a disaster declaration for Alabama Thursday and on Friday for portions of the neighboring states of Mississippi and Georgia. That makes federal funds available to help residents, businesses and local governments.  About 2,000 National Guard soldiers have been deployed in Alabama to assist local emergency crews.

In addition to the large number of deaths in Alabama, 34 people were killed in both Tennessee and Mississippi, and about 15 each in Georgia and Arkansas.  Other fatalities were reported in Virginia, Louisiana and Kentucky.

This week's tornadoes were the second in a wave of severe weather to affect the southern United States in April.  A series of storms early in the month killed at least 45 people in the region.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

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