Tornadoes Kill 54 in South

Twisters rip through Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 6, 2008 7:24 AM CST
Police survey the damage to a Sears store at the Hickory Ridge Mall in Memphis, Tenn. Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2008. A tornado struck the southeast part of Memphis causing damage to the mall. No one was seriously...   (Associated Press)
camera-icon View 3 more images

(Newser) – At least 54 people are dead and 100 injured in a series of tornadoes that tore across the South last night and early this morning, and rescue teams fear that the full extent of the storms' destruction remains to be seen. The twisters, which closed polls early in some states, trapped people in damaged buildings, ignited fires, and sliced through a university, a mall, a retirement home, and a hospital, CNN reports.

The dead—in Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, and Kentucky—included families whose homes took direct hits and people in a warehouse whose roof collapsed. "It looks like a war zone," one Tennessee witness said. An emergency worker spoke of flames shooting "400, 500 feet in the air" from a blaze caused by a tornado.