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Last Updated: Friday March 02 2007 16:59 GMT

Deadly tornado strikes the US

A helicopter evacuates an injured person from Enterprise High School

Powerful tornadoes have killed at least 20 people in southern America.

One tornado wrecked a school in the state of Alabama, killing at least eight people and injuring about 40 as it ripped off the roof.

Rescuers are still searching for people trapped in the wreckage of the school in the small town of Enterprise.

Although Alabama had the worst storms, nine people were killed in Georgia. Both states are still on high alert as more tornadoes could hit the area.

Van in school car park
Overturned van in school car park

Tornadoes have also been reported in Arkansas and Kansas and Missouri, where one seven-year-old girl was reported to have been killed.

Pupils at Enterprise High School were being sent home early for safety when the tornado struck. People dived inside for cover as winds of up to 50mph ripped through the building.

Outside, fierce winds flipped over cars and buses in the school car park.

A total of 19 tornadoes tore across America on Thursday.

Although weather forecasters had warned the storms were on their way, they didn't realise how powerful they would be.

It's the beginning of the tornado season in the US but experts have said it is very early to be experiencing such violent storms.

People killed by tornadoes in southern US
Enterprise, Alabama: Eight dead at school, one elsewhere
Millers Ferry, Alabama: One dead
Americus, Georgia: Two killed when tornado struck hospital
Taylor County, Georgia: One dead
South-west Georgia: A further six people reported dead
Missouri: Seven-year-old girl killed