At least 17 people were killed as a massive storm system ripped through the central and southern US yesterday, spawning deadly tornadoes in Arkansas and Oklahoma. Tornadoes also touched down in Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, and Missouri, reports the AP, which puts the death toll at 16 in Arkansas and one in Oklahoma. More:
- The Little Rock suburb of Vilonia was one of the hardest-hit towns, with at least 10 people dead and other victims believed to be buried under rubble, Reuters reports. The county sheriff says there is a "mass casualty situation" with numerous people injured. "There's just really nothing there anymore," says the local school superintendent. "We're probably going to have to start all over again."
- Damage is widespread in other suburbs of Little Rock, where the National Weather Service urged residents to take cover after a tornado seen crossing Interstate 40 "was reported to be as much as a half-mile wide," CNN reports. The AP reports a path of devastation some 80 miles long.
- In North Carolina, meanwhile, where a string of tornadoes damaged hundreds of homes on Friday, an 11-month-old boy has become the state's first tornado-related death of the year. He died in the hospital two days after passersby helped free him and his mother from the wreckage of their home, NBC reports.