No respite for US from deadly tornadoes

At least 14 dead as "supercell" storms hit Oklahoma and Kansas, two days after 122 were killed in city of Joplin.

    At least 14 people have been killed as a string of violent thunderstorms battered middle-America, with several tornadoes touching down in Oklahoma and high winds pounding rural Kansas.

    Tuesday's "supercell" storms came just two days after a massive tornado tore through the southwest Missouri town of Joplin, killing at least 122 people and injuring hundreds more, according to authorities.

    Supercell thunderstorms are characterised by the presence of a deep, continuously-rotating updraft.

    In the latest incident, at least one person was injured as a massive tornado levelled numerous buildings and homes, flattened trees, and overturned cars and semi-tractor trailers in the Missouri city of Sedalia on Wednesday, according to the Sedalia Democrat, a local newspaper.

    The paper also said a school bus barn and the buses inside it were damaged by the tornado.

    Click to open an interactive map of the devastation

    Emergency services have asked authorities to block off the Brentwood neighbourhood in southern Sedalia because of people flocking to the area to see the heavy damage.

    A day earlier, several tornadoes struck Oklahoma City and its suburbs during rush hour, killing at least five people and injuring dozens more, including three children who were in critical condition, authorities said.

    "Unfortunately, this event will likely continue for some time," Mary Fallin, Oklahoma governor, said. "I am asking all Oklahomans to stay aware of the weather and to take proper precautions to keep themselves out of harm's way."

    In Kansas, police said two people died when high winds threw a tree into their van near the small town of St John, about 160km west of Wichita. The highway was shut down because of storm damage.

    The line of storms began about 3pm in Oklahoma and followed tracks greater than 65km into the state's capital city before continuing on towards Tulsa. Oklahoma state offices and many businesses let workers leave hours earlier to get out of harm's way.

    Storm clouds also spawned funnel clouds and at least one tornado around North Texas, but there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

    Joplin devastation

    Rescue crews in the Midwestern US city of Joplin in Missouri rummaged through piles of debris, searching for survivors of a massive tornado that killed 122 people and wreaked havoc in the city.

    Barack Obama, the US president, said he was "heartbroken" over the devastation wrought by the storm over the weekend and would visit the disaster zone on Sunday, following his four-nation visit to Europe.

    About a third of Joplin has been damaged or destroyed by the tornado [AFP]

    "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families that are suffering at the moment," Obama told reporters in London, after earlier promising federal aid for recovery efforts.

    "All we can do is let them know that all of America cares deeply about them and we are going to do absolutely everything we can to make sure they can recover," he said.

    Major injuries

    At least 750 people were also injured in the twister that damaged or destroyed more than 2,000 buildings - or about a third of Joplin. Many of those wounded were reported to have massive internal injuries, according to local officials.

    Al Jazeera's Rob Reynolds, reporting from the scene of the disaster in Joplin, said the death toll could still rise since some areas had not yet been searched by rescue teams.

    The tornado struck the city near the border with Oklahoma and Kansas on Sunday evening, less than a month after a horrific tornado outbreak left 354 dead across seven US states.

    The twister was the deadliest of 46 tornadoes reported to the National Weather Service in seven states on Sunday.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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