Tornadoes tear through South, add to US death toll

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Emergency personnel search the remains of several mobile homes for survivors in Louisville, Miss., early Tuesday morning, April 29, 2014 after a tornado hit the east Mississippi community Monday. Tornadoes flattened homes and businesses, flipped trucks over on highways and bent telephone poles into 45-degree angles as they barreled through Alabama and Mississippi on Monday, part of a storm system that killed at least nine people in the South and brought the overall death toll from two days of severe weather in the country to at least 26. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Emergency personnel search the remains of several mobile homes for survivors in Louisville, Miss., early Tuesday morning, April 29, 2014 after a tornado hit the east Mississippi community Monday. Tornadoes flattened homes and businesses, flipped trucks over on highways and bent telephone poles into 45-degree angles as they barreled through Alabama and Mississippi on Monday, part of a storm system that killed at least nine people in the South and brought the overall death toll from two days of severe weather in the country to at least 26. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

A searcher walks past the remains of a SUV in Louisville, Miss., early Tuesday morning, April 29, 2014 after a tornado hit the east Mississippi community Monday. Tornadoes flattened homes and businesses, flipped trucks over on highways and bent telephone poles into 45-degree angles as they barreled through Alabama and Mississippi on Monday, part of a storm system that killed at least nine people in the South and brought the overall death toll from two days of severe weather in the country to at least 26. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

The Glass Masters building in Richland, Miss., is almost completely torn from its foundation after a tornado cut a swath through the area late Monday afternoon, April 28, 2014. (AP Photo/The Clarion-Ledger, Joe Ellis) NO SALES

An officer moves a sign from the road after a possible tornado passed through, damaging homes and business on Monday, April 28, 2014, in Kimberly, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Bessemer firefighters assist residents from the Timberline West apartment complex after a possible tornado passed through, damaging several buildings on Monday, April 28, 2014, in Bessemer, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

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LOUISVILLE, Miss. (AP) — A dangerous storm system that spawned a chain of deadly tornadoes over three days flattened homes and businesses, forced frightened residents in more than half a dozen states to take cover and left tens of thousands in the dark Tuesday morning.

As the storm hopscotched across a large swatch of the U.S., the overall death toll was at least 28, with 11 killed in the South on Monday and 17 in the central U.S. on Sunday. Forecasts showed Georgia as the next likely target, with residents waking to sirens, howling wind and pounding rain.

Others found their loved ones missing and their homes pulverized early Tuesday. Along Mississippi Highway 397 on the eastern edge of Louisville, firefighters picked through the remains of mobile homes, searching for three people unaccounted for after a tornado tore through. Twenty firefighters linked hands and waded through an area where woodframe homes had also been heavily damaged. Rescue workers stepped gingerly over downed power lines and trees that were snapped in half and stripped of branches.

The Louisville tornado caused water damage and carved holes in the roof of the Winston Medical Center. The emergency room was being evacuated.

“We thought we were going to be OK then a guy came in and said, ‘It’s here right now,’” said Dr. Michael Henry, head of the emergency room. “Then boom … it blew through.”

Republican state Sen. Giles Ward huddled in a bathroom with his wife, four other family members and their dog as the tornado destroyed his two-story brick house in Louisville and flipped his son-in-law’s SUV upside down onto the patio.

“For about 30 seconds, it was unbelievable,” Ward said. “It’s about as awful as anything we’ve gone through.”

Mississippi emergency officials said seven people had been killed statewide. State Director of Health Protection Jim Craig said officials were working with coroners to confirm the total.

Six people died in Winston County, where Louisville is the county seat, with about 6,600 people. It was unclear whether those deaths were included in the state’s total tally.

One of the six was a woman who died in the day care center she owned in Louisville, county Coroner Scott Gregory told The Associated Press late Monday. It was unclear if any children were in the day care center at the time, said William McCully, acting spokesman for the Winston County Emergency Management Agency.

In Tupelo, a community of about 35,000 in northeastern Mississippi, every building in a two-block area south of U.S. Highway 78 suffered damage, officials told a reporter on the scene. Some buildings had their roofs sheared off, while power lines had been knocked down completely or bent at 45-degree angles. Road crews were using heavy machinery to clear off other streets.

The Northeast Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo had received 30 patients as of Monday night, four of whom were being admitted with non-life-threatening injuries, said center spokeswoman Deborah Pugh. Pugh said the other 26 patients were treated for minor injuries and released.

The storm sent staff at a Tupelo TV news station running for cover. WTVA-TV chief meteorologist Matt Laubhan was reporting live on the weather around 3 p.m. when he realized the twister was coming dangerously close.

“This is a tornado ripping through the city of Tupelo as we speak. And this could be deadly,” he said in a video widely tweeted and broadcast on YouTube.

Moments later he adds, “A damaging tornado. On the ground. Right now.”

He peeks in from the side to see if he’s still on the air before yelling to staff off-camera: “Basement, now!” He then disappears off camera.

Later, the station tweeted, “We are safe here.”

In southern Tennessee, two people were killed in

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