At least 21 people have been killed and more than 130 others injured after strong tornadoes and deadly storms struck multiple midwestern and southern US states Friday into early Saturday, authorities said on Sunday.
According to CNN, more than 50 preliminary tornado reports were recorded on Friday in at least seven US states.
Four people died and dozens more were hurt when a confirmed strong tornado tore through Wynne, the county seat and largest city of Cross County, Arkansas, according to local media outlet Region 8 News.
There was “total destruction throughout the town” and dozens of residents were trapped following the tornado, Xinhua News Agnecy reported quoting Wynne Police Chief Richard Dennis.
One person died and at least 50 people were sent to hospitals in Little Rock, Arkansas, after a violent tornado caused severe damage on Friday afternoon, according to Pulaski County officials.
“Close to 2,600 structures have been impacted,” Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. told CNN on Saturday.
At least seven people were killed in McNairy County, which is located in southwest Tennessee, State Governor Bill Lee said in a statement.
A 50-year-old man was killed on the scene when the roof of the Apollo Theatre in Belvidere, northern Illinois collapsed on Friday night. Up to 40 others were taken to hospitals, with at least two of them in critical condition, officials said.
Three others were killed following the collapse of a residential structure in Crawford County, southern Illinois, according to Illinois Emergency Management Agency spokesperson Kevin Sur.
Also on Friday night, three people died while multiple residences and the volunteer fire department were damaged in Sullivan County, Indiana, State Police Sgt. Matt Ames said.
Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb on Saturday declared disaster emergencies for Sullivan and Johnson counties.
Fatalities were also reported in Alabama and Mississippi, and tornadoes also caused damage in eastern Iowa.
From northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin, including Chicago and Milwaukee, tornado watches extend nearly 1,000 miles all the way to Mississippi and Texas, affecting tens of thousands of people on Friday, according to AccuWeather.
It could take days to determine the exact number of tornadoes, said Bill Bunting, chief of forecast operations at the Storm Prediction Center.
There were also hundreds of reports of large hail and damaging winds, said Bunting, adding that “that’s a quite active day … but that’s not unprecedented.”
Just one week ago, a massive tornado leveled a town in the southern U.S. state of Mississippi, claiming 25 lives. The 26th death was reported in Alabama during the same round of turbulent weather.
The latest “intense supercell thunderstorms” are only expected to become more common in middle and southern US states, as temperatures rise around the world, experts say.