Powerful storms have swept across the South after unleashing suspected tornadoes and flooding that killed at least six people – including three children – injured dozens and flattened much of a Texas town.
Nearly 90,000 customers were without power in Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Georgia as of midday today, according to www.poweroutage.us, as the severe weather left a trail of destruction.
Two children were killed on a back road in East Texas when a pine tree fell onto the car in which they were riding in a severe thunderstorm yesterday near Pollok, about 241 kilometres southeast of Dallas.
The tree 'flattened the car like a pancake,' said Captain Alton Lenderman of the Angelina County Sheriff's Office.
The children, ages 8 and 3, were dead at the scene, although both parents, who were in the front seat, escaped injury, he said.
At least 25 people were taken to hospitals for treatment after a suspected tornado struck the Caddo Mounds State Historic Site in East Texas during a Native American cultural event in Alto, about 209 kilometres southeast of Dallas, said Police Chief Jeremy Jackson. At least eight were critically hurt.
There was widespread damage in Alto, a town of about 1200, and the school district cancelled classes until its buildings can be inspected to ensure they are safe.
A tornado flattened much of the south side of the Central Texas town of Franklin, overturning mobile homes and damaging other residences, said Robertson County Sheriff Gerald Yezak. Franklin is about 200 kilometres south of Dallas.
The weather service said preliminary information showed an EF-3 tornado touched down with winds of 225kph.
The tornado destroyed 55 homes, a church, four businesses, a duplex, and part of the local housing authority building, authorities said.
Two people were hospitalised for injuries that were not thought to be life-threatening, while others were treated at the scene, Mr Yezak said. Some people had to be extricated from their damaged dwellings.
Heavy rains and storms raked Mississippi last night as the storms moved east.
A 95-year-old man died after a tree crashed onto his trailer in northeastern Mississippi, Monroe County Road Manager Sonny Clay said at a news conference, adding that a tornado had struck.
Nineteen residents were taken to hospitals, including two in critical condition. A tornado was reported in the area 225 kilometres southeast of Memphis, Tennessee, at the time.
National Weather Service meteorologist John Moore said a possible twister touched down in the Vicksburg, Mississippi, area. No injuries were reported there, but officials said several businesses and vehicles were damaged.