At least 18 killed as tornadoes rip across the US cutting power lines and destroying homes

Powerful storms left a wide trail of destruction across northern Texas
Powerful storms left a wide trail of destruction across northern Texas - Julio Cortez/AP

At least 18 people were killed after tornadoes swept across a vast swath of the US, with powerful winds ripping off roofs and toppling electricity pylons.

The storms obliterated homes and destroyed a truck stop where dozens sought shelter in a restroom.

Seven deaths were reported in Cooke County, Texas, near the Oklahoma border, where a tornado on Saturday night plowed through a rural area near a mobile home park, according to Texas Governor Greg Abbott at a news conference on Sunday.

The dead included two children, ages 2 and 5.

Three family members were found dead in one home, according to the county sheriff, the Associated Press reported.

About 100 people were injured and more than 200 homes and structures destroyed, Mr Abbott said, speaking in front of the ravaged truck stop near the small agricultural community of Valley View.

Storms also killed two people and destroyed houses in Oklahoma, where the injured included guests at an outdoor wedding, eight people in Arkansas and one person in Kentucky. Tens of thousands of residents were without power across the region.

Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kansas, Indiana and Kentucky were battered by storms, hail, and twisters overnight on Saturday into Sunday.

More than 100 million people, nearly a third of the US population, had been under severe weather warnings.

The centre of the country bore the brunt of the storms as millions of people planned to enjoy the Memorial Day holiday.

More than 500,000 were left without power as winds overturned cars and destroyed homes.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency early on Monday in a post on social media platform X, citing “multiple reports of wind damage and tornadoes’’.

Elsewhere in Texas victims in Denton County were taken to hospital, but their condition was unknown. According to officials, 24 mobile homes were shattered.

An employee helps to collect tools from the wreckage of a body shop in Valley View, Texas
An employee helps to collect tools from the wreckage of a body shop in Valley View, Texas - Julio Cortez/AP
Damaged cars in Valley View, Texas
Damaged cars in Valley View - Julio Cortez/AP

In Cooke County, rescue workers combed through the debris looking for survivors.

“The storm has caused significant damage to numerous homes and businesses,” said Sheriff Ray Sappington.

“Emergency services are actively searching the debris for missing persons and there have been numerous injuries of varying degrees reported.

“It would really help if people just stayed away right now, gave us a few hours to get our search and rescue done,” he told ABC News.

“I know some were out of the area and trying to get back, but it’s dangerous out there. Power lines are down. There have been reports of gas leaks. It’s just dangerous right now.”

The dead in Arkansas included a woman, 26, who was found outside her destroyed home in Olvey.

Valley View, Texas
A woman salvages items from her destroyed home in Valley View - Julio Cortez/AP

The small town of Rogers in Arkansas was wrecked after powerful winds ripped off metal roofs and brought down power lines and trees.

“I’ve lived in this area my entire life, I can barely recognise it,” a woman told the Weather Channel.

There were also reports of flash flooding in Memphis, Tennessee and Tupelo, Mississippi.

At the Indianapolis 500 motor racing event, officials warned spectators to take cover from the lightning.

“Given the proximity of lightning moving toward the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a decision has been made to pause the pre-race ceremonies and move fans out of the grandstands and Snake Pit,” Indianapolis Motor Speedway said on X.

The storms were moving east on Sunday towards Ohio, North Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia, putting an estimated 27 million people in the mid-Atlantic region at risk.

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