The death toll nears 20 in the storm that hit the eastern part of the USA Reuters

Author Liliana Salgado

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas (Reuters) – A powerful storm with strong winds and heavy rains lashed parts of the southern and midwestern United States as it headed east on Saturday, leaving 18 dead and dozens injured, according to officials and media reports.

At least five people died in Arkansas, officials said, as emergency services searched for more possible victims after tornadoes tore through the state on Friday.

Officials also reported one death in Illinois and three in Indiana, while local media reported Saturday that there were seven deaths in McNairy County, Tennessee, on the Mississippi border. Fox News reported one death each in Alabama and Mississippi.

The National Weather Service has issued a severe thunderstorm warning for Saturday afternoon for parts of central New York and central and eastern Pennsylvania, with wind gusts up to 65 miles (105 km) per hour.

Rain and winds are also expected in eastern Ohio and parts of West Virginia, according to the weather service.

Strong, strong winds with gusts up to 60 mph (100 km/h) are also forecast for Washington, DC, through Saturday.

Twisters tore roofs and walls off many buildings in Arkansas, overturned vehicles and toppled trees and power lines in Little Rock and large areas east and northeast of the state capital, officials said.

An extreme spring weather storm swept across much of the United States on Friday, threatening thunderstorms and tornadoes across the midstate from Texas to the Great Lakes.

Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Saturday there were five confirmed dead in the state.

“We have five confirmed deaths right now. We have several others that have been reported, but we don’t have confirmation from local law enforcement on the ground. And, so, we’re waiting on that. But right now, statewide, we have five confirmed deaths,” she said. is.

Four deaths in Arkansas were reported in Wynne, about 100 miles (160 km) east of Little Rock, Cross County Coroner Eli Long said.

One person was killed and more than 50 people were hospitalized in North Little Rock, Pulaski County spokeswoman Madeline Roberts told The Washington Post.

US President Joe Biden spoke with Huckabee Sanders and the mayors of Little Rock and Wynne, the White House said in a statement. He also spoke with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Deanne Criswell.

Biden also reached out to Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker, the White House added.

Huckabee Sanders said Biden and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas offered support to the federal government in phone calls Saturday.

“Anything that Arkansas needs, we’ve been assured that those resources will be here and on the ground,” she said at a news conference.

In the northern Illinois town of Belvidere, one person was killed and 28 injured when extreme weather conditions blew the roof off a theater during a heavy metal concert.

Belvidere Fire Chief Shawn Schadle said about 260 people attended the concert at the city’s Apollo Theater, which featured headliner Morbid Angel as part of the group’s “Tour of Terror.”

Concertgoer Gabrielle Lewellyn told WTVO television that people took shelter in the basement when the roof collapsed.

“They pulled someone out of the rubble. I sat with him and I held his hand and I said everything was going to be okay. I didn’t really know much else to do,” Lewellyn said.

Three people died in Sullivan County, Indiana, Indiana State Police Sgt. Matt Ames said. A state of emergency has been declared for the affected areas, Sheriff Jason Bobbitt announced on Facebook (NASDAQ: ).

Fox News, citing Fox Weather, reported that a tornado killed one person in Madison County, Alabama, and another person died during the storm in Pontotoc County, Mississippi.

The turbulent weather came a week after a thunderstorm unleashed a deadly tornado that devastated the town of Rolling Fork, Mississippi, destroying many of the community’s 400 homes and killing 26 people.

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