A powerful tornado hit the US state of Alabama, killing at least 18 people as severe storms crossed the country's southeast. A high school was one of the worst hit.
The tornado on Thursday caused a roof to collapse at Enterprise High School in Alabama, leaving several students trapped inside, the Enterprise Ledger newspaper reported on its website.
Yasamine Richardson, a spokesperson for the Alabama Emergency Management Agency, said there were at least 18 deaths and another 35 people were hospitalised statewide. The death toll included 15 at the high school, two others in Enterprise and one from a nearby county.
The high school was still being searched for more possible victims, Richardson said.
Power companies reported at least 20,000 customers with outages.
Storms spawned apparent funnel clouds across the region. The same storm system was blamed for at least one death from a tornado earlier Thursday in southern Missouri, a midwestern state on the Mississippi River.
The National Weather Service said that conditions were ideal for the dangerous funnel clouds, especially in the southern US states of Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. Residents of the region were advised to listen for storm warnings and take shelter if necessary.
The storms were part of a huge storm front crossing the eastern half of the US in a line stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to the Canadian border. The front was causing heavy snow in the Great Lakes states of the Upper Midwest.