A massive spring storm system tearing through central and southern United States, has left over 300 people dead across nine states, emergency officials say.
At least 204 people died in the State of Alabama alone, many in Tuscaloosa, a city of over 83,000 where a massive tornado devastated the city, according to wire reports.
The storm system destroyed the infrastructure of the city, including its police and other emergency services. The major University of Alabama is also located in Tuscaloosa, enduring heavy damage.
A hospital in the city said its emergency room had admitted at least 100 people with hundreds treated without being admitted.
Tennessee was another state heavily hit by the storm system, killing at least 34, according to the state’s Emergency Operations Center in Nashville.
The violent storms and tornadoes, described as the deadliest system of tornadoes to strike the United States since 1974, have also claimed 33 lives in the State of Mississippi,15 in Georgia, 12 in Arkansas, 10 in Virginia and five more in Louisiana, Missouri and Kentucky.
In north Alabama, a nuclear power plant west of the city of Huntsville lost power and was operating on diesel generators.
Also in Alabama, as many as one million people were without power on Thursday morning, as emergency workers and over 2,000 national guard troops searched the rubble for survivors.
“What we faced today was massive damage on a scale we have not seen in Tuscaloosa in quite some time,” said Mayor Walter Maddox of Tuscaloosa.
He added that he expected his city’s death toll to rise.
Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama called the tornado damage “nothing short of catastrophic”, vowing to do whatever it takes to ensure that the disaster relief efforts are fully and properly executed in the tornado-stricken areas.
The storm system extended major devastation Tuesday night and Wednesday from State of Texas to Virginia, and it was forecast to hit the Carolinas next before moving further northeast.
The US National Weather Service has reported nearly 300 tornadoes since the storm system began last Friday, more than 160 on Wednesday alone.
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