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Tornadoes and Storms Claim 15 Lives in Central US

Tornadoes and Storms Claim 15 Lives in Central US

At least 15 people lost their lives as tornadoes and storms wreaked havoc across central areas of the US, leaving a trail of destruction and power outages affecting hundreds of thousands. The severe weather claimed lives in northern Texas (seven people), Arkansas (five people), Oklahoma (two people), and Kentucky (one person). Countless others were injured, and almost 500,000 people were left without electricity across multiple states on Sunday.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced that more than a third of all counties in his state were now under a disaster declaration. In Cook County, Texas, Sheriff Ray Sappington confirmed that the death toll included two young children aged two and five, as well as three members of the same family. The Valley View area experienced severe devastation, with significant damage to homes and infrastructure, including a petrol station and rest stop nearly obliterated by the storm.

The tornadoes caused extensive damage, overturning trucks, shutting down a highway near Dallas, and leaving tens of thousands without power. The severe weather also forced the evacuation of approximately 125,000 spectators at the Indianapolis 500 race, delaying the event by four hours.

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In north Texas, resident Frank Soltysiak recounted how his mobile home was destroyed in minutes by the storm. He sought shelter in a walk-in refrigerator at a nearby restaurant and emerged to find his home and surrounding area completely devastated.

Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick announced the activation of state emergency response units to aid affected communities. He urged the public to pray for the families who lost loved ones, describing their loss as “unfathomable.”

The storm system, which brought record-breaking heat to some parts of Texas, began moving east by Sunday afternoon. The National Weather Service warned of severe wind and hail in the storm’s path. In Oklahoma, Mayes County reported two fatalities and six injuries. Arkansas officials confirmed multiple deaths and injuries, including the death of a 26-year-old woman in Olvey. Kentucky’s Louisville mayor Craig Greenburg reported that a man had been killed by a falling tree during the storm.

As the storm system moved eastward, about 470,000 people remained without power in states ranging from Texas to Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Kentucky. Emergency services in Wichita, Kansas, were dealing with downed trees and power lines, affecting around 8,000 customers.

These recent tornadoes follow another deadly twister in rural Iowa earlier in May, which killed four people. Government forecasters have warned of a potentially “extraordinary” 2024 Atlantic hurricane season, set to begin next month.