US storms leave 45 dead

Updated: 2011-04-18 06:58


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RALEIGH, North Carolina - Rescue crews searched for survivors in wind-blasted landscapes Sunday in North Carolina, the state hardest hit by a storm system that spawned dozens of tornadoes from Oklahoma to Virginia and left at least 45 people dead.

US storms leave 45 dead

Workers survey the remains of a destroyed Lowe's Home Improvement store after a tornado in in Sanford, North Carolina, April 17, 2011.[Photo/Agencies]

The spring storm, North Carolina's deadliest in two decades, spun off 62 tornadoes in that state alone Saturday night. Eleven people were confirmed dead in rural Bertie County, county manager Zee Lamb said.

Another four were confirmed dead in Bladen County, bringing the state's death toll to at least 21.

In the capital city of Raleigh, three family members died in a mobile home park, said Wake County spokeswoman Sarah Williamson-Baker. At that trailer park, residents lined up outside Sunday and asked police guarding the area when they might get back in.

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The storm claimed its first lives Thursday night in Oklahoma, then roared through Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. Authorities have said seven died in Arkansas; seven in Alabama; two in Oklahoma; and one in Mississippi. In Virginia, local emergency officials reported seven storm-related deaths, said Virginia Department of Emergency Management spokesman Bob Spieldenner.

Spieldenner said the state medical examiner's office confirmed one person died in Gloucester, where a tornado hit; two died in flash flooding in Waynesboro; and one person died in Wythe County when a tree fell on a mobile home. Officials were still investigating another two deaths reported in Gloucester and one in Page County.

In North Carolina, Gov. Beverly Perdue declared a state of emergency and said the 62 tornadoes reported were the most since March 1984, when a storm system spawned 22 twisters in the Carolinas that killed 57 people, 42 in North Carolina, and injured hundreds.

US storms leave 45 dead

Downed power lines and debris from a tornado fill a street in Raleigh, North Carolina April 17, 2011. Tornadoes tore through the Carolinas on Saturday afternoon as the death toll rose to 20 people from the storms across the southern United States over the last three days. [Photo/Agencies]

Daybreak brought news of a horrific death toll in Bertie County, about 130 miles (210 kilometers) east of Raleigh. The tornado moved through about 7 pm Saturday, sweeping homes from their foundations, demolishing others, and flipping cars on tiny rural roads between Askewville and Colerain, Lamb said. At least three of those who died were from the same family, he said.

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