Saturday, April 30, 2011

Alabama Tornadoes sweep: At least 300 dead

The death toll from storms and tornadoes that struck on Wednesday night and Thursday morning the southern United States increased to 306, of which about 204 were killed only in the state of Alabama, reported local media. President Barack Obama called the loss of lives of "heartbreaking" and damage to homes and businesses as "nothing short of catastrophic." He promised a strong federal aid for reconstruction and Friday to visit affected areas of Alabama.

Hundreds of people were injured and many others are listed as missing in Alabama, so the death toll could still rise. The large number of fallen trees and debris did not allow rescue teams to reach many areas today, 24 hours after being hit by tornadoes. While initiating the relief and cleanup, Alabama authorities have confirmed that the death toll rose to 194 in that state, the most affected by the storm, moving toward the northeast.

According to preliminary calculations, officials in other states reported 32 dead in Mississippi, 34 in Tennessee, 11 in Arkansas, 14 in Georgia, eight in Virginia and two in Louisiana. One of the hardest hit areas was the city of Tuscaloosa (Alabama), more than 83,000 inhabitants, where the police department and other emergency services were devastated.

Local authorities reported at least 36 dead and more than a hundred people attended at a hospital. After a tornado went through the city on Wednesday evening the streets were impassable in the dark. The governor of Alabama, Robert Bentley, declared a state of "major disaster" (emergency) and ordered the mobilization of 2,000 National Guard members in this state to enhance the rehabilitation of buildings and the rescue of hundreds of missing or people without trace.

"We will ask the president (Barack Obama) respond quickly to a request for major disaster assistance," the governor of Alabama during a news conference. In the town of Rainsville (Alabama) Police found 25 bodies in a parking area, while in the town of Athens nuclear plant remained without power on Wednesday and remained closed today.

The U.S. president, Barack Obama announced Thursday that Friday will travel to Alabama to visit some affected areas and meet with families, state and local officials and the governor of this southern state. In a press conference at the White House, the president described as "heroes" to the police, fire and emergency team members involved in rescue efforts during the "heartbreaking" storms.

Obama said the federal government will do "everything possible" to help all Americans affected by the disaster to recover and to be "your side" as they rebuild their communities. The weekly schedule of anticipated Obama shift on Friday to Florida in the southeastern United States to attend the launch of the space shuttle 'Endeavour' in Cape Canaveral and deliver a speech at a university in Miami.

The president authorized the sending of funds and resources of the federal government for relief efforts. By stating in a statement that the federal government would provide emergency aid to Alabama, Obama said: "Michelle and I offer our deepest condolences to the families of those who have lost their lives due to tornadoes that have hit Alabama and the entire southeastern United States.

" About one million people are without power in this southern U.S. state, with a population of 4.7 million, due to the storms, according to the governor. The string of thunderstorms and tornadoes could be the biggest natural disaster in the U.S. since Hurricane Katrina in 2005 (1.500 deaths) and the tornadoes of April 1974 (310 deaths), according to Accuweather.

com. The storms also knocked down numerous trees that blocked the emergency teams in Birmingham and other areas heavily damaged by the storms was the Walker County in the northwest corner of the state, where at least eight people died. The Tennessee Valley Authority reported that the Brown's Ferry plant, nuclear power, about 48 miles west of Huntsville, was without power and appealed to the seven diesel generators to continue operation of the three reactors.

Three women died in Kemper County, Mississippi, when a storm destroyed the mobile home where they were. A spokesman for the National Park Service said in Choctaw County, Mississippi, a police officer died when a tree fell on the tent in the camping and where he tried to protect her daughter with her own body.

The girl was not injured.

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