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US storm claims eight lives

World News
Fri, 26 Feb 2016

Residents and rescue crews combed through wreckage left by storms that lashed the eastern US, killing at least eight people and injuring scores across a number of states, officials said.

The storm pounded the Carolinas and Virginia with high winds, hail and heavy rain. Flood warnings were in place from Maryland to Maine.

The worst-hit area of Virginia was Waverly, a town about 210km south of Washington, where a tornado packing winds of up to 110 miles per hour carved a path 274 metres wide and nine miles long.

Two Waverly men and a two-year-old boy were killed when the twister demolished their mobile home. Their bodies were found about 300 yards away.

"It's hard to imagine what people went through when the storm was going on last night," Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe in the town, where streets and yards were filled with debris and downed trees.

Another man was killed near Appomattox, and McAuliffe said the storm may have claimed a fifth victim in the state. A State Police spokeswoman said that death was still unconfirmed.

William Brown, 71, of Petersburg, Virginia, said he was knocked unconscious when a tree fell on his truck as he tried to escape the storm in Waverly.

When he came to, he found that the mobile home he had been next to – and where the victims had been – was flattened.

"I am grateful to God," said Brown as he watched a crane try to lift the tree off his vehicle. "Every once in a while God lets us know who is in charge of things."

More than 50 National Guard troops were expected to be deployed across the state to clear downed trees and open roads, officials said.

In South Carolina, a man died when he was struck by a falling tree. Tornadoes pummelled Louisiana and Mississippi, killing at least three people.

A Virginia emergency management spokesman said at least 40 people had been injured. Up to 64 homes or businesses had been destroyed and about 180 had been damaged, he said.

The National Weather Service said the storm system would continue to push northward into Canada. Snow and gusty winds were forecast across part of the Appalachian Mountains, the Great Lakes and New England. 

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