A strong storm system moving across the central and southern United States has spawned several tornadoes, killing at least 18 people in an outbreak forecasters say could continue Monday as the storms continue traveling to the east.
Two people were killed in Vilonia, a small town in central Arkansas of some 3,800 people, and rescuers were digging the rubble of ruined buildings looking for more victims.
A spokesman for the Faulkner County Sheriff\’s office in Arkansas said there was a "mass casualty situation", and the number of people injured was reported to be numerous.
A person also died in a tornado that tore through the nearby town of Mayflower, 35km northwest of Little Rock, at about 7:30pm, officials cited by the Reuters news agency said.
About 45 homes were destroyed and a lumberyard was damaged, said Will Elder, an alderman in the city of 2,300 people. He said at least one person was injured.
Three people were also killed in western Pulaski County, according to the sheriff\’s department.
The tornado, which grew to be a half-mile wide, turned buildings into rubble and stripped the leaves and smaller branches off of trees.
It was one of several tornadoes that touched down Sunday as a large storm system moved through parts of the Plains, Midwest and South.
Meanwhile, at least one person was killed in a tornado in a small Oklahoma town in the northeast corner of the state, according to Ottawa County Sheriff\’s Department spokesman Derek Derwin. Media and the National Weather Service reported that two people were killed.
The storm system is hitting on the third anniversary of one of the worst tornado outbreaks in U.S. history, which killed more than 300 people and included nearly 300 reported tornadoes across the nation\’s southeast.
Source: Reuters and agencies