Storms leave nearly 300 as dead in southern US


New York : Severe storms that have been heavily hitting southern US since last week have left nearly 300 people as dead in six states, devastating entire neighbourhoods and crippling towns, CNN reported.

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The grim toll continued to rise across the region, with 283 counted in six states.

The vast majority of fatalities occurred in Alabama, where at least 194 people perished, Gov. Robert Bentley said.

Public and private assistance — in the form of food, tarps and hugs — began arriving Thursday in storm-battered southern communities that saw once-familiar neighbourhoods reduced to piles of debris.

The worst-hit Alabama is followed by Mississippi.

A tornado left a trail of destruction in Tuscaloosa – a city of 90,000 people in Alabama – Wednesday afternoon, Xinhua reported citing local daily Birmingham News.

Emergencies were declared by the governors of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma and Tennessee, and the toll was expected to rise, Daily Telegraph reported.

According to the National Weather Service, it had received 137 tornado reports Wednesday, bringing to 300 the total number counted in the region since Friday, the report added.

The highest toll was in Franklin county in the northwest, where 18 people died, the Alabama Emergency Management Agency said.

US President Barack Obama has declared a state of emergency in Alabama, authorising the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate immediate disaster relief efforts, the White House said in a statement.