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Sunday, 1 May 2011

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The worst US tornadoes in decades

Over 330 people across six states in the USA died in the storms, with the vast majority - 213 people - in Alabama. The death toll, including those who were killed by storms earlier in the week in Arkansas, reached 339. On Friday evening, Alabama emergency officials announced that the state's death toll had reached 238, a jump of 28 in one day, adding that 21 were still missing. While Alabama was hit the hardest, the storm spared few states across the South. Thirty-three people were reported dead in Tennessee, 32 in Mississippi, 15 in Georgia, five in Virginia and one in Kentucky, according to The Associated Press.

US President Barack Obama declared a major disaster in Alabama on Thursday night, an action that makes federal financing available for individuals, businesses and state and local governments. "I've never seen devastation like this," Obama said during a tour of this college town, according to The Associated Press. "We're going to make sure you're not forgotten."

Shocked Americans are struggling to grasp the magnitude of the worst US tornadoes in decades, with 295 lives lost in a trail of destruction stretching across the south.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley's small home town of Tuscaloosa have been virtually wiped off the map and officials are warning that the body count will rise as rescue workers find more dead amid the debris.

Though it is early to start on calculating the storm's economic impact, some major employers such as auto plants and some small businesses have been blown away altogether.

The scale of destruction has had a severe impact to Alabama's $5 billion poultry industry.

The industry, which is mostly located in the northern counties that were hit hardest, processes 20 million broiler chickens a week and is one of the nation's top three producers.

 

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