Wednesday 24 May 2017

18 killed as storms wreak havoc across the US

Terry Paramore works on his roof after a severe storm caused a tree to fall on his home. (AP Photo/Branden Camp)
Terry Paramore works on his roof after a severe storm caused a tree to fall on his home. (AP Photo/Branden Camp)
Georgia Govenor Nathan Deal has declared a state of emergency in seven counties that have suffered deaths, injuries and severe damage from weekend storms (AP Photo/Brendan Farrington)
Storm damage is seen at South Georgia Motorsports Park in Cecil, Ga., Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017 (AP Photo/Brendan Farrington)

Severe storms that caused destruction across southern US states have claimed at least 18 lives on a two-day sweep across the region.

They put millions of people on edge during a weekend of violent weather that left crumpled trailer homes and downed trees in the hardest-hit communities from Mississippi to Georgia.

The severe weather threat was still continuing late on Sunday night in some parts, extending into the Carolinas and north Florida.

At least 14 people were killed on Sunday in Georgia as the fast-moving storms tore across the state through the day.

There was at least one deadly tornado reported before dawn and violent storms still rumbling after nightfall.

Four people were killed on Saturday in Mississippi when the system began its deadly assault.

"There are houses just demolished," said Norma Ford, from Albany, Georgia, the region's largest city with 76,000 residents.

She said rushed out with other relatives on Sunday evening after hearing a reported twister had overturned her nephew's mobile home.

Ms Ford said downed trees and powerlines made roads impassable, forcing them to walk the two miles to the mobile home park to check on her relatives.

She said her nephew was fine, but several of his neighbours' homes were destroyed.

Georgia's latest three deaths were confirmed on Sunday evening in Dougherty County where Albany is located.

Sebon Burns, the county's deputy chief for emergency management, said search and rescue efforts were continuing on Sunday night following reports of injuries and extensive damage.

Yet the day's deadliest toll came before dawn an apparent tornado blew through a mobile home park in south Georgia - about 60 miles from Albany - upending homes and killing seven people.

Coroner Tim Purvis of south Georgia's Cook County confirmed seven people died at the mobile home park, where about roughly half of the 40 homes were "levelled".

President Donald Trump said he had spoken with Governor Nathan Deal of Georgia and "expressed our sincere condolences for the lives taken".

"Tornadoes were vicious and powerful and strong, and they suffered greatly," Mr Trump said during a White House ceremony where he was swearing in aides.

"So we'll be helping out the state of Georgia."

Mr Deal declared a state of emergency in seven southern Georgia counties, freeing up state resources to assist with recovery efforts.

Two of Sunday's deaths occurred in Brooks County when a mobile home was struck by an apparent tornado, moving it 100 yards before dawn on Sunday.

"A tornado hit a mobile home, picked it up and put it in the middle of Highway 122," Brooks County Coroner Michael Miller said.

"I don't know if it rolled or was lifted, but it blocked the entire highway."

Georgia emergency officials said two people were also killed in nearby Berrien County.

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