Thursday 22 February 2018

Four more killed as tornadoes tear across US East Coast

An overturned car rests on a highway in Waverly, Virginia (AP)
An overturned car rests on a highway in Waverly, Virginia (AP)

At least four people have been killed in the US as storm systems ravaged the East Coast and the Mid West.

Tornadoes left a path of destruction in Virginia, the hardest-hit state, and police said a two-year-old child and two men, aged 50 and 26, were killed in the town of Waverly.

Also in Virginia, a funnel cloud left a 10-mile path of destruction in Appomattox County, where one man was killed.

A powerful storm also brought heavy snow and biting winds to the Mid West, leading to mass flight cancellations at Chicago airports and school closures in several states.

The storms came the day after a t least three people were killed by tornadoes in the Gulf Coast states.

Two were killed at a motorhome park in the town of Convent in southern Louisiana, and a 73-year-old man died in a mobile home west of Purvis, Mississippi.

Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency as thousands were left without power across the state.

The tiny town of Waverly took the brunt of the storm. The bodies of the three victims there were found about 300 yards from their mobile home.

At least five structures were damaged in the town of approximately 2,000 and roads leading into town had to be closed because of downed trees and debris tossed around by winds gusting to 60mph.

At least 15 structures were destroyed and 25 injuries were reported when the storm passed through Essex County and the town of Tappahannock, about 45 miles north east of Richmond, state police said. The injuries ranged from minor to serious, but there were no confirmed fatalities.

The line of storms moved across Pennsylvania and the New York City area, bringing strong winds and heavy rains that knocked down trees and caused scattered power outages.

The Chicago Department of Aviation reported more than 1,100 flights had been cancelled at the city's two major airports by Wednesday evening.

Northern Indiana was expected to see the heaviest snow, as powerful winds blowing off Lake Michigan could bury the area in up to 18in. Parts of Michigan could also see more than a foot of snow, and some schools closed ahead of the storm. Most of the state was under a winter storm warning that extends until at least Thursday afternoon.

Bill Bunting with National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Centre estimated 20 to 24 tornadoes hit from Louisiana to Florida on Tuesday.

Later, South Carolina officials said a man died when he was hit by a tree as he was picking up debris from the storms that moved across the Carolinas on Wednesday afternoon.

Darlington County Corner Todd Hardee said in a statement that 58-year-old Michael Gaines Sr, of Darlington, had stopped on a road near his home to remove debris from the road when a pine tree fell on him.

Mr Hardee said the death is being investigated by his office and the sheriff's office.

Sheriff Wayne Byrd said the victim was being a good Samaritan when he was killed.

No other deaths have been reported in the Carolinas from the strong storms.

Press Association

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