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02 May 2011 09:51
At least 58 people are known to have died after tornado-spawning storms swept across Alabama
US president Barack Obama has declared a state of emergency following the death of more than 70 people after four states in the south were hit by a series of storms.
At least 58 people are known to have died after tornado-spawning storms swept across Alabama.
Mr Obama said he has approved Alabama governor Robert Bentley's request for emergency assistance - a move which authorises the Federal Emergency Management Agency to co-ordinate disaster relief efforts in the state.
The events highlight the need for adequate
travel insurance to mitigate against possible disruption to trips.
The death toll includes at least 15 in Tuscaloosa, home of the University of Alabama, and its mayor said sections of the city had been destroyed and the infrastructure devastated.
The president and first lady Michelle Obama offered condolences to families affected by the storms and commended "the heroic efforts of those who have been working tirelessly to respond to this disaster".
Eleven deaths were reported in Mississippi, two in Georgia and one in Tennessee.
News footage showed paramedics lifting a child out of a flattened Tuscaloosa home, with many neighbouring buildings in the city of more than 83,000 also reduced to rubble. A hospital there said its casualty unit had admitted at least 100 people.
"What we faced today was massive damage on a scale we have not seen in Tuscaloosa in quite some time," mayor Walter Maddox said, adding that he expected the death toll to rise.
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