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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 May, 2003, 18:42 GMT 19:42 UK
US clears up after tornadoes
The centre of Pierce City was hit hard by the force of the storms
It was the worst storm for a decade
Clear-up efforts are under way in the central United States, after a series of deadly tornadoes tore across Missouri, Tennessee and Kansas, killing at least 38 people.

Houses were blown apart and trees and power lines uprooted as the tornadoes carved a trail of destruction about 400 metres (quarter of a mile) wide in some places.

Forecasters have warned of possible further tornadoes developing as the storm system continues to move south and eastwards.

A tornado watch is in force for northern Alabama, northern Mississippi and parts of western Tennessee.

Officials in Missouri said at least 14 people had been killed there; in Tennessee 11 were reported dead and in Kansas the storms were blamed for the deaths of seven people.

In Pierce City, Missouri - a small town of just over 1,000 people - barely a home or business was left untouched.
Resident picks his way through the rubble in Pierce City
The whole town has been destroyed pretty much
Michael Spencer
Red Cross official, Pierce City

Everyone in Pierce City has been affected, local Red Cross official Michael Spencer told BBC News Online.

"But the whole community is pulling together. There are hundreds of people lined up here now wanting to help - people are bringing food, some are helping with the rescue effort."

Buck Katt, deputy director of Missouri's emergency management services, said they were still assessing the situation but there had been significant damage in parts of the state.

"We have not experienced a storm like that for at least a decade," he told BBC News Online.

The tornadoes which hit on Sunday were spawned by a huge weather system that rolled across the Mid-West and parts of the southern US. Arkansas, South Dakota and Nebraska were also affected.

Some of the worst-hit areas were on the Kansas and Missouri border.

American Red Cross officials erected emergency shelters and providing hot meals for those made homeless by the storms.

The BBC's Matt Frei
"On average one thousand tornadoes hit America each year"

In pictures: Mid-West tornadoes
05 May 03  |  Photo Gallery
Tornadoes: Small but terrifying
11 Nov 02  |  Science/Nature
Nature at its most powerful
04 May 99  |  In Depth
Dozens hurt in Mississippi tornado
20 Dec 02  |  Americas
US towns start tornado clean-up
12 Nov 02  |  Americas


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