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Two people killed in major US storm

Violent weather including possible tornadoes has roared across the US state of Alabama, injuring dozens of people and killing at least two.

The storms flattened homes and peeled off roofs in the middle of the night in the rural community of Oak Grove near Birmingham. As dawn broke, residents surveyed the damage and began cleaning up across parts of central Alabama, an area that has a history of tornadoes going back decades.

Bobby Frank Sims, 83, was killed when his home was crushed by a tree.

Oak Grove was hit hard in April when tornadoes killed about 240 people across the state, though officials said none of the same neighbourhoods were struck again.

In Clay, north-east of Birmingham, 16-year-old Christina Nicole Heichelbech died, Jefferson County coroner's office said. Rescue workers said her parents were injured.

In a sign that Alabama has become all too familiar with severe weather, officials had to reschedule a meeting to receive a report on their response to the spring weather. Alabama's governor declared a state of emergency for the entire state.

The storm system stretched from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, producing hail, strong winds and rain. Possible tornadoes were reported in Arkansas on Sunday night.

In Alabama, searchers went door-to-door calling out to residents, many of whom were trapped by trees that criss-crossed their driveways.

Jefferson County, where Oak Grove and Clay are located, suffered the most damage, followed by Chilton County, with most of the damage around Maplesville.

Oak Grove, a sprawling unincorporated area in the western part of the county, was nearly wiped out on April 8, 1998, by a powerful tornado that killed 34 people and left about 260 people injured.


From Belfast Telegraph