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Baby girl swept up by tornado dies of her injuries

A toddler found in a field after tornadoes smashed America's Midwest and South died after her surviving family took the heart-wrenching decision to switch off her life support machine.

Angel Babcock's death brings the overall toll from Friday's storms to 39 across five states and rescuers are still going door-to-door in rural areas to rule out more victims.

Another round of storms earlier last week killed 13 people, the latest in a string of severe-weather episodes ravaging the American heartland in the past year.

Angel, 15 months, of New Pekin, Indiana, was found after her family's mobile home was destroyed in the storms, killing her father, mother and two siblings.

When Angel arrived at Kosair Children's Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky, on Friday night, she was opening her eyes in a hopeful sign, chief nursing officer Cis Gruebbel said.

But her condition worsened on Saturday, when the swelling in her brain did not decrease, he said. As the day went on, her eyes ceased to move and she continued to deteriorate. There was no sign of brain activity.

Family members made the decision to end life support last night.

"Angel has been reunited with her parents," her grandfather, Jack Brough, said. "We want to thank God for all of you and for your thoughts and prayers. God will bring you and all of us out of this. This is what it will take. All should look to God."

Yesterday, people gathered to worship, comb through debris and learn what happened to loved ones and friends, often without modern technology to help.

Mobile phone signals were hard to find, the internet was out and electricity indefinitely interrupted. In many cases, word-of-mouth conversations replaced text messages, Facebook status updates and phone calls.

"It's horrible. It's things you take for granted that aren't there anymore," said Jack Cleveland, 50, a Census Bureau worker from Henryville, Indiana.

At yesterday's mass at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Henryville, Father Steve Schaftlein turned the church into an information exchange, asking the 100 or so people there to stand up and share what they knew.

While it could be days before power and phone services are fully restored to the damaged areas, crews were making progress. In Indiana, about 2,800 homes were without power, down from 8,000 in the hours after the storms. But in some hard-hit areas, like Henryville, a substation and transmission lines need to be rebuilt, which could take up to a week.

Nearly 19,000 customers were without power in Kentucky, according to the state's Public Service Commission, and a few thousand more from municipal utilities.

Mobile phone companies were trying to help residents by setting up mobile charging and email stations so they could communicate while power and phone services were still difficult to find. They also brought in portable towers to boost signals, and service was improving yesterday.

Belfast Telegraph


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