Hurricanes and strong storms hit US: Death toll rises to at least 21

At least 21 people have died as tornadoes and severe storms tore apart homes and businesses in the South and East-Central United States, according to a new tally from officials.

Tennessee has seven deaths due to severe weather, all in McNairy County, east of Memphis, state disaster management agency spokeswoman Maggie Hannon told AFP.

A devastating tornado tore through Arkansas, killing five people, Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders of the rural state in the southern US said during a press conference.

The capital, Little Rock, was hit hard. Residents woke up to overturned cars, uprooted trees, broken telephone poles and destroyed houses.

We know that many are displaced and seeking refuge“, Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. recounted.

“The roofs of some buildings were completely blown off.”, Laura Farrar, a journalist for a local economic publication, told AFP on Friday. “The neighborhood was completely gutted and destroyed.”

“The city of Vine in the northeast of the state.”Basically it was bisected by damage from east to west“, Mayor Jennifer Hobbs explained to CNN.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who said she had discussed the situation with President Joe Biden, declared a state of emergency earlier in the day and deployed about 100 National Guardsmen.

Mississippi authorities reported one death and several injuries in Pontotoc County, about 200 km south of Memphis.

An elderly man in Alabama was killed when a tornado tore through his home, officials in the town of Huntsville, near the Tennessee border, said.

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