At least 43 killed as Christmas storms continue to batter the US
Published 28/12/2015 | 07:42
A string of powerful storms over Christmas has left at least 43 people dead across America.
Thousands of flights have been cancelled and hundreds of buildings flatten as tornadoes and flash floods continued to wreak havoc throughout much of the South, Southwest and Midwest of the United States
The dangerous and unpredictable weather has prompted the governors of Missouri and New Mexico to declare a state of emergency in their states.
Flash floods killed at least 13 people in Missouri and Illinois.
Emergency workers in both states have evacuated residents from their homes and conducted dozens of water rescues, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon said on Sunday.
He said at least eight people had been killed in his state so far.
Three adults and two children were near the village of Patoka, Illinois, 137 km east of St. Louis, Missouri, when their car was washed away by floodwaters on Saturday night, according to Marion County Coroner Troy Cannon.
In Texas, at least 11 people were killed in the Dallas area over the weekend by tornadoes, including one packing winds of up to 322 km/h.
The twister hit the city of Garland, killing eight people and blowing vehicles off highways.
"It is total devastation," Garland Police spokesman Lieutenant Pedro Barineau said.
"It is a very difficult time to be struck by such a horrible storm the day after Christmas."
Three other deaths were reported in the Dallas metropolitan area, the United States' fourth most populous with about 7 million residents.
Scores of people were injured in the region and officials estimated some 800 homes may have been damaged.
Powerful tornadoes are a staple of spring and summer in central states but occur less frequently in winter, according to US weather data.
Three tornadoes were reported in Arkansas on Sunday, the weather service said, but there were no initial reports of significant injuries or damage.
The service has issued tornado watches and warnings for areas in that state, as well as in parts of Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Mississippi.
The bad weather forced the cancellation of nearly 1,500 flights in the nation on Sunday, according to tracking service FlightAware.com.
About half of the cancelled flights were in Dallas, a major US flight hub.
The storms came on the heels of tornadoes that hit two days before Christmas, killing at least 18 people, including 10 in Mississippi.
In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott said his office had declared Dallas County and three nearby counties disaster areas.
He also warned people to be wary of snow in western parts of the state and rivers spilling their banks in other places.
The National Weather Service issued severe weather advisories for large parts of the central United States, including a blizzard warning for parts of New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and a flash flood watch stretching from Texas to Indiana.
New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez declared a state of emergency for the entire state due to a winter storm that had dumped up to two feet of snow by Sunday night.
The New Mexico city of Roswell bested its one-day snowfall record, receiving 12.3 inches by Sunday evening, the Weather Service said.