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Last Updated: Friday, 8 February 2008, 16:34 GMT
Tornado baby survivor 'a miracle'
Tornado survivor Kyson Stowell, with grandmother Kay Stowell
Rescuers thought Kyson Stowell was a toy doll

Relatives of a baby boy found alive after being flung 100m (300ft) by a tornado that hit the southern US have described his survival as "a miracle".

Eleven-month-old Kyson Stowell was found face down in a muddy field after being picked up by a tornado that killed his mother and wrecked his home.

"He's just a miracle, luck, God watching over him - it's all it can be," said his grandfather Doug Stowell.

At least 55 people were killed as the storms swept through on Tuesday.

It was the deadliest tornado barrage in two decades, the US news agency Associated Press (AP) reported.

It tore apart communities in Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas, on the same day that residents of some of those states voted in the US presidential primaries.

'God's grace'

It was as rescue workers combed the devastated town of Castalian Springs, Tennessee, that firefighter David Harmon came across what looked "like a baby doll".

"He was laying face down with his arms above his head... He was just laying there motionless, wasn't moving," Mr Harmon said.

Tornado damage in Atkins, Arkansas
The winds left behind flattened streets and overturned vehicles

The baby was lying 100m or more from the ruins of his house. His mother, 23-year-old Kerri Stowell, was found dead in the same field.

He was taken to the children's hospital at Vanderbilt University, but had only light cuts and bruises.

Dr Tom Morgan said: "Maybe he landed on something that lessened his blow, maybe he, you know, came down against a bush or something. I think it was probably mostly luck, God's grace."

Others in the community also saw it as divine intervention - a ray of hope amid the destruction visited on them in a few violent hours.

Reverend Doyle Farris of nearby Hartsville Pike Church of Christ said "even in the midst of the worst storm... if you look, you can find an inspiration or a bright spot".

"The child will always be a reminder in this community of that message," he told AP.

Meanwhile James Krueger, a 49-year-old electrician, described how he clung to the floor as his house was pulled away from around him.

"It was like God was holding my leg and beating the **** out of me for everything I've done in my life," he said.

People have been returning from makeshift shelters to what remains of their homes, and President George W Bush visited Tennessee on Friday.

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