A storm system forecasters called ‘particularly dangerous’ killed at least seven people and injured 40 others as it swept across the country Wednesday, before giving way to unseasonably warm, Spring-like weather marked by record-breaking temperatures in the central and eastern states on Christmas Eve.
Tornadoes touched down in Indiana and Mississippi, where three were killed. The springlike storms packing strong winds killed three more people in Tennessee.
A tree blew over onto a house in Arkansas, killing an 18-year-old woman identified as Michael Remus and trapping an 18-month-old child inside, authorities said. Rescuers pulled the toddler safely from the home.
A 7-year-old boy died in Holly Springs, Mississippi, when the storm picked up and tossed the car he was riding in with his family, officials said. Police there said several homes were blown off their foundations.
Slabs of metal were tangled in drooping power lines, dangling precariously alongside the road, and the smell of freshly overturned dirt and trees lingered in the air as emergency crews tended to downed power lines.
Mulester Johnson, 67, said he and relatives were inside his house in Holly Springs when the storm hit. The wind tore the back of his house from its foundation and multiple sheds were missing afterward, he said.
Trees rested atop several trucks on his property, and slabs of brick walls were strewn throughout his yard after the storm.
‘The chimney is the only thing that saved us really,’ he said.
Close by, in Benton County, Mississippi, two people died and at least two were missing. Crews were searching house-by-house and to make sure residents were accounted for.
In the northwest part of the state, a tornado damaged or destroyed at least 20 homes. Clarksdale Mayor Bill Luckett said the only confirmed casualty was a dog killed by storm debris. Planes at a small airport overturned and an unknown number of people were injured.
‘I’m looking at some horrific damage right now,’ the mayor said. ‘Sheet metal is wrapped around trees; there are overturned airplanes; a building is just destroyed.’
Television images showed the tornado appeared to be on the ground for more than 10 minutes. Interstate 55 was closed in both directions as the tornado approached, the Mississippi Highway Patrol said.
At least 40 people were injured in the state, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency said. According to agency spokesman Greg Flynn, some of the injuries are serious and include amputations.
Read more: Daily Mail