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Tornado hits Mexico, killing 13 people and leaving hundreds injured - 'There's nothing standing, not walls, not roofs'

A tornado has swept through a Mexican border city, killing at least 13 people.

A baby is also missing after the storm that hit Ciudad Acuna, a city of 125,000 across the border from Del Rio in Texas, ripped the child's carrier from the mother's hands and sent it flying, said Victor Zamora, interior secretary of the northern state of Coahuila.

Rescue workers dug through the rubble of damaged homes in a race to find victims. The twister hit a seven-block area, which has been described as "devastated".

Mayor Evaristo Perez Rivera said 300 people were being treated at local hospitals, and up to 200 homes had been completely destroyed.

"There's nothing standing, not walls, not roofs," said Edgar Gonzalez, a spokesman for the city government, describing the worst-hit square mile stretch.

Ten adults and three infants have been confirmed dead, with at least five people unaccounted for.

Rescuers continue their search for four members of a family who are believed missing, and there are still areas of rubble that remain to be searched.

Photos from the scene showed cars with their bonnets torn off, resting upended against single-storey houses. One car's frame was bent around the gate of a house. A bus was seen flipped and crumpled on a road.

The twister struck not long after daybreak, around the time buses were preparing to take children to school.

Across the border in Texas, 12 people were reported missing after the vacation home they were staying in was swept away by rushing floodwaters in a small town popular with tourists.

A line of storms that stretched from the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Lakes dumped record rainfall on parts of the Plains and Midwest, spawning tornadoes and causing major flooding that forced at least 2,000 Texans from their homes.

Witnesses reported seeing the swollen Blanco River push the vacation house off its foundation and smash it into a bridge. Only pieces of the home have been found, according to Hays County Judge Bert Cobb.

One person who was rescued from the home told workers that the other 12 inside were all connected to two families.

The house was in Wimberley Valley, an area known for its bed-and-breakfast inns and weekend rental cottages.

Dana Campbell, a retired engineer who lives on a bluff above the river, said the floodwaters left behind damage that resembled the path of a tornado "as far as the eye can see".

The storms were blamed for at least six deaths on Saturday and Sunday in the US, with three in Oklahoma and three in Texas. A man's body was recovered from a flooded area along the Blanco River, which rose 26ft in an hour and created huge piles of debris.

Trey Hatt, a spokesman for the Hays County Emergency Operations Centre, said teams had halted their search for the missing at nightfall. He said "the search component is over", meaning that no more survivors are expected to be found in the flood debris.

Texas governor Greg Abbott flew over parts of the Blanco, a day after heavy rains pushed the river into surrounding neighbourhoods.

Mr Abbott said the storms had "relentless tsunami-type power", and urged communities downstream to monitor flood levels and take the threat seriously.

The governor added 24 counties to his disaster declaration, bringing the total to 37, most in the eastern half of the state.

Among the worst-affected communities were Wimberley and San Marcos, along the Blanco in the corridor between Austin and San Antonio.

About 1,000 homes were damaged throughout Hays County. Five police cars were washed away, and the fire station was flooded, said Kristi Wyatt, a spokeswoman for San Marcos.

Rivers swelled so quickly that whole communities awoke Sunday surrounded by water. The Blanco crested above 40ft - more than triple its flood stage of 13ft. The river swamped Interstate 35 and forced parts of the busy north-south highway to close. Rescuers used pontoon boats and a helicopter to pull people out.

Hundreds of trees along the Blanco were uprooted or snapped, and they collected in piles of debris up to 20ft high.

A tornado briefly touched down on Sunday in Houston, damaging rooftops, toppling trees, blowing out windows and sending at least two people to hospital. Fire officials said 10 apartments were heavily damaged and 40 others sustained lesser damage.

Dallas faced severe flooding from the Trinity River, which was expected to crest near 40ft Monday and lap at the foundations of an industrial park. The Red and Wichita rivers also rose far above flood stage.


From Belfast Telegraph