x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Weekend storms kill at least 15 in US

A line of thunderstorms that brought heavy flooding and tornadoes to Mississippi and Tennessee over the weekend left at least 15 people dead, officials said.

MEMPHIS // A line of thunderstorms that brought heavy flooding and tornadoes to Mississippi and Tennessee over the weekend left at least 15 people dead, officials said. At a news conference yesterday, Tennessee Gov Phil Bredesen said it will likely be days before floodwaters recede enough to thoroughly assess the damage to roads and bridges. Emergency officials sought help from the state's Army National Guard, and urged people to stay off roads and interstate highways turned into raging rivers.

Tennessee officials have confirmed 15 deaths. Gov Bredesen said he expects to ask for federal disaster designation. TEMA spokesman Jeremy Heidt confirmed that one person died around 4am local time yesterday in a possible tornado near Pocahontas, east of Memphis. No further details were available.

Meanwhile, National Guard and Tennessee Highway Patrol helicopters with hoisting capabilities were on standby to rescue people from the floodwaters that covered city streets and left cars stranded on interstate highways turned into rivers. In northern Mississippi, officials said a man died after his car was submerged under flood waters. Two people died in a mobile home that "looks like you stuck about four sticks of dynamite on it and it just disappeared," said Coroner John Riles.

County Emergency Management coordinator David Shaw said one person was killed in the town of Abbeville, where 15 or 20 houses were damaged by strong winds. A line of strong thunderstorms Saturday dumped at least 25 centimetres of rain on Memphis and produced tornadoes and hail along the Mississippi River Valley in Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky and northward. The forecast called for more rain through the day yesterday, which could stymie rescuers trying to reach all of the far-flung areas that have been affected.

Some areas were hit by 33 centimetres of flash flooding on Saturday, and the same was expected yesterday, Browning said. * AP