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27 killed, several injured in violent US storms

Dozens of tornadoes ripped up small towns in their path late on Sunday while huge chunks of hail destroyed houses.

india Updated: Apr 04, 2006 10:39 IST

A series of tornadoes and other violent storms tore across central US states killing at least 27 people and leaving dozens more injured, authorities said on Monday.

Dozens of tornadoes ripped up small towns in their path late on Sunday while huge chunks of hail destroyed houses, downed power lines and felled trees.

Authorities in some localities said many people remained trapped in their homes.

"Right now we're trying to make sure there are no people left in the rubble," Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen told CNN television.

Two counties in Tennessee bore the brunt of the thunderstorms which carried the tornadoes.

"This morning, I made an initial disaster declaration request to PresidentBush for Dyer and Gibson counties where combined, an estimated 23 people lost their lives and more than 58 suffered injuries," Bredesen said in a statement.

"The thoughts and prayers of our state are with those families who lost loved ones or suffered injury as a result of last nights storms. We can replace material objects, but the human costs are what cut the deepest," he said.

National Guardsmen were to help with debris removal in affected areas.

"There's just nothing left of houses but foundation," Sheriff Jeffrey Holt in Dyer County told CNN.

He said that all around him was "absolute total destruction of homes" and that widespread power outages were expected to last several days.

A small baby was among the 15 people reported killed in Dyer County.

Holt said there had been "plenty of warnings" as the storms advanced. "The amount of destruction in the area is what caused our fatality count to get so high," he said.

In Illinois, one man was reported killed when winds demolished a clothing store in Fairview Heights.

Three other deaths were reported in Missouri. A 42-year-old man was crushed to death when a mobile home toppled over in Essex.

Police said a tree fell on a man in Ballwin, St Louis County, and authorities reported another death in the town of Braggadocio.

National Weather Service meteorologist Jim Moser in Nashville said that hail as large as four centimetres (1.5 inches) had been reported.

"We had a lot of hail reports and trees blown down," he said. "A church was unroofed in Fentress County," he said.

First Published: Apr 04, 2006 10:39 IST