A wave of tornado-spawning storms ripped through six states yesterday, killing at least 269 people and flattening buildings. Some 180 people died in Alabama alone, many of those in college-town Tuscaloosa, where a mile-wide tornado tore through the city's downtown, the AP reports. There were 33 casualties in Mississippi, 33 in Tennessee, 14 in Georgia, eight in Virginia, and one in Kentucky.
President Obama has spoken with Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and approved his request for federal emergency assistance, including search and rescue teams. Tuscaloosa's mayor estimates "hundreds of homes and businesses (were) destroyed and hundreds more damaged" around the University of Alabama campus, reports the BBC, and the city's infrastructure has been devastated. "What we faced today was massive damage on a scale we have not seen in Tuscaloosa in quite some time," he told reporters. (Read more storm stories.)