Washington, April 2 : At least 26 people have been killed after a series of tornadoes and deadly storms struck through towns and cities in several US states, authorities said on Sunday.
Homes were destroyed and thousands left without power after huge storms caused devastation across several states, the BBC reported.
According to the National Weather Service of the US, there have been more than 80 reported tornadoes since Friday.
States including Arkansas, Tennessee, Illinois, Indiana, Alabama and Mississippi have all had fatalities.
One storm shredded through the Arkansas town of Wynne — a community, around 170 km from the state capital, Little Rock.
A school was badly damaged, with some buildings torn to pieces. One of its teachers, Lisa Worden, said a decision to send pupils home early was critical.
Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders declared a state of emergency in the state of Arkansas on Friday, with the national guard activated to help with recovery efforts.
She said she had spoken to US President Joe Biden about the situation, who promised federal aid.
Friday’s storms also led to the collapse of a theatre roof at a packed heavy metal gig in Belvidere, Illinois state, leading to one death and 28 injuries.
As storms continue to work their way east, hundreds of thousands of people are without power across several states.
Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania are the worst affected, according to the US PowerOutage website.
In a bulletin, the Storm Prediction Center warned some of the projected tornadoes could track across the ground for long distances.
The deadly tornadoes come a week after a rare, long-track twister killed 26 people in Mississippi.
The Mississippi tornado last week travelled 94 km and lasted about an hour and 10 minutes — an unusually long period of time for a storm to sustain itself. It damaged about 2,000 homes, officials said.
President Biden visited the state on Friday to pay his condolences.
Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb on Saturday declared disaster emergencies for Sullivan and Johnson counties.
Fatalities were also reported in Alabama and Mississippi, and tornadoes also caused damage in eastern Iowa.
From northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin, including Chicago and Milwaukee, tornado watches extend nearly 1,000 miles all the way to Mississippi and Texas, affecting tens of thousands of people on Friday, according to AccuWeather.
It could take days to determine the exact number of tornadoes, said Bill Bunting, chief of forecast operations at the Storm Prediction Center.
There were also hundreds of reports of large hail and damaging winds, said Bunting, adding that “that’s a quite active day… but that’s not unprecedented.”
Just one week ago, a massive tornado levelled a town in the southern US state of Mississippi, claiming 25 lives. The 26th death was reported in Alabama during the same round of turbulent weather.
The latest “intense supercell thunderstorms” are only expected to become more common in middle and southern US states, as temperatures rise around the world, experts say.