Severe storms in five states of southern US has killed 178 people, officials report.
The highest death toll has been reported in Alabama, with the state emergency management agency reporting 128 confirmed deaths. Alabama Governor Robert Bentley told ABC television “We expect that toll, unfortunately, to rise.”
Other states affected includes Mississippi, where 32 people have been reported dead; Georgia with 11 people dead; Tennessee with six and Virginia with one.
Homes and businesses have been wiped out, a nuclear power plant has been forced to use its backup generator, and a National Weather Service office has been evacuated as a result of the severe storms that have spawned tornadoes across the south.
More than 300 tornadoes have been reported since the bad weather started on Friday, with 130 reported on Wednesday alone, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). Tornadoes have been reported as far east as Virginia and Maryland.
The NWS has issued a rare “high-risk” warning of tornadoes, hail, flash flooding and dangerous lightning for parts of Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi. Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee and Oklahoma have all declared a state of emergency.
“This has been a very serious and deadly event that’s affected our state, and it’s not over yet,” said Governor Brantley following the second string of storms hitting the state.