18 Apr 2011

Search for survivors after fatal storms batter US

6:55 pm on 18 April 2011

At least 45 people have been killed in a series of powerful storms in the United States.

Rescuers are searching for survivors in North Carolina after three days of storms and tornadoes in the state.

An emergency has been declared in North Carolina after three days of storms and up to 62 tornadoes battered the state. At least 21 people have died - the highest toll for any of the states affected.

Deaths were also reported in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Texas, Alabama, Georgia and Virginia, the BBC reports.

Officials in North Carolina said the number of victims might increase further as rescue teams searched remote areas.

Hailstones the size of grapefruit were reported as the storms swept through the region, creating flash floods as well as tornadoes.

An estimated 200,000 homes in North Carolina were without power on Sunday.

North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue said the number of tornadoes had been the highest since 1984, when tornadoes killed 42 people.

The storms first struck Oklahoma on Thursday before sweeping eastward, and some parts saw their worst tornadoes in decades.

More than 240 tornadoes were reported over the three days, but the US National Weather Service's final numbers could be lower because some tornadoes may have been reported more than once.