AT least 22 people have been killed as a powerful storm whipped up tornadoes in its third day across parts of the southern, central and eastern United States.
At least five people were killed as tornadoes left a trail of destruction in North Carolina overnight, leveling homes and businesses and knocking out power, NBC television reported.
One person was killed in Alabama’s Marengo Country while six more died in Autauga and Washington Counties, MSNBC television reported.
The storm toppled trees and power lines, tore roofs off houses and scattered tractor-trailers across highways.
Two dozen tornadoes were reported in the southern states of Mississippi and Alabama on Friday, a day after 15 twisters struck in Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas, the National Weather Service said.
Many of Friday’s deaths were in rural areas of Arkansas, where seven people were killed, and most of the damage was caused by falling trees.
But the storm was powerful enough to lift a double-width trailer into the air and toss it about 21m, killing a 65-year-old woman and critically injuring a 70-year-old man inside.
“Three of the seven victims were seven years of age or younger,” said Tommy Jackson, spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management.
“It’s quite sad.”
Falling trees killed a mother and her seven-year-old child in a house in Little Rock city, while a father and his infant son died in their mobile home in Garland County, Jackson said.
A six-year-old child was also killed when a tree fell on a White County house and a man was killed when a tree crashed on his trailer in Pulasky County.
Two other people were killed in Oklahoma when a major twister tore through Atoka County.
“It’s pretty extensive,” said Laura Taylor of the county sheriff’s office. “There are several houses destroyed. The school is pretty much levelled and there’s two confirmed dead.”
Another person was killed in Greene County, Mississippi, according to local media.
Meanwhile, North Dakota struggled to contain near-record flooding of the Red River.