US tornadoes kill 39; rescue efforts continue
New York, March 4, 2012
Rescue teams and residents combed through storm-wracked towns to assess damage from a chain of tornadoes that killed at least 39 people in the US.
The tornadoes cut a 1,000-mile (1,600-km) swath of destruction from the Midwest to the Gulf of Mexico.
The fast-moving twisters spawned by massive thunderstorms splintered blocks of homes, damaged schools and a prison, and tossed around vehicles like toys, killing 20 people in Kentucky, 14 in neighboring Indiana, three in Ohio and one in Alabama, officials said. Georgia also reported a storm-related death.
"We're not unfamiliar with Mother Nature's wrath out here in Indiana," Governor Mitch Daniels told CNN during a visit to the stricken southeast corner of the state.
"But this is about as serious as we've seen in the years since I've been in this job," he said, standing against the backdrop of the hard-hit town of Henryville, which declared a nighttime curfew to prevent looting.
Friday's storms came on top of severe weather earlier in the week in the Midwest and brought the overall death toll from the unseasonably early storms this week to at least 52 people.
Tornadoes smashed Indiana and Kentucky hard, with Alabama, Georgia, Ohio and Tennessee overrun as well.
President Barack Obama called the governors of Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio to offer condolences and assure them the federal government was ready to help if needed, the White House said.
Television footage from some of the worst-hit towns in Indiana and Kentucky showed houses ripped from their foundations, trees downed and stripped of their foliage, and rubble scattered across wide swaths of land.
In Georgia, light planes were lifted off the tarmac of a regional airport in Paulding County and thrown back on the ground. In Indiana, a school bus was slammed into a building. - Reuters