Washington, Apr 2 (EFE).- At least 26 people have been killed by powerful tornadoes that have hit the Midwest and southern United States, leaving thousands of homes destroyed, tens of thousands without power and even causing the roof of a concert hall to collapse.
The death toll could still rise in the coming hours as emergency services in the worst-hit states scour the streets to assess the damage and find survivors, sometimes going door to door.
So far, local authorities have confirmed the deaths of 12 people in Tennessee, five in Arkansas, four in Illinois, three in Indiana, one in Alabama and one in Mississippi.
The tornadoes, which struck the Midwest and southern US on Friday night, have left a trail of devastation in their wake, with trees and electricity poles ripped out of the ground and homes reduced to piles of rubble.
Little Rock, the capital of Arkansas, is one of the hardest-hit cities and at least 2,600 homes have been damaged, according to a statement from the city council.
Another of the hardest-hit towns in Arkansas is Wynne, with a population of 8,000, where high winds shattered the roof and windows of the local high school and damaged homes and businesses.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Deanne Criswell, who is coordinating the federal response to the disaster, will visit the two Arkansas towns Sunday to assess the damage, Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott, Jr. announced on Twitter.
Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders has mobilized 100 National Guard reservists to respond to the disaster and declared a state of emergency to put the state’s resources behind the search effort.
Sanders on Saturday called on US president Joe Biden to declare the events a disaster so that Arkansas can access federal government resources.
The governors of Indiana and Kentucky, Eric Holcomb and Andy Beshear, respectively, have also declared a state of emergency.
In northern Illinois, the tornadoes left a scene of “absolute chaos”, Belvidere police chief Shane Woody said, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Specifically, the tornadoes caused the roof of a theater where 260 people were attending a heavy metal concert to partially collapse, killing at least one person dead and injuring 28, according to the Belvidere fire service.
The tornadoes have left 27,000 homes in Arkansas and 17,000 in Tennessee, two of the worst affected states, without electricity, according to the PowerOutage.us website.
According to the National Weather Service, the storms could continue for the next week.
Thunderstorms with lightning are expected on Tuesday in parts of Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, among other southern and Midwestern states, according to the National Weather Service. EFE