Tornadoes kill at least 22 across US

WASHINGTON (AFP) — US authorities rushed aid to disaster areas Monday after a series of tornadoes tore across the United States, killing at least 22 people, shattering homes and businesses, and leaving tens of thousands without power.

US President George W. Bush called it a “sad day” for devastated communities in the states of Missouri, Oklahoma and Georgia and promised emergency federal aid.

A total of 14 people were reported dead in Missouri, two in the southeastern state of Georgia, and six in Oklahoma, which earlier had reported seven fatalities. There were also scores of injured.

“We are still conducting some search and rescue today,” Susie Stonner, a spokeswoman for Missouri’s department of emergency management, told AFP, adding that some of the injured were “in hospital in critical condition.”

Numerous tornadoes touched down in Oklahoma late Saturday as the storms ripped across the state at 35-45 miles per hour (55-70 kmh), killing seven in the area near the town of Picher, the Oklahoma department of emergency management said. Some 150 people were injured there.

Fierce winds ripped roofs off houses, and other homes were thrashed to kindling as the storms downed power lines, utility poles and trees.

“In some cases, only a home’s concrete slab remains,” Oklahoma authorities said in a statement.

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