A ferocious tornado ripped through Little Rock, the Arkansas state capital, on Friday, toppling roofs and walls of many buildings, uprooting trees, overturning vehicles and injuring hundreds of people, according to US media reports.
The University of Arkansas Medical Sciences declared a mass casualty event after a “catastrophic” tornado struck Little Rock, a CBS affiliate broadcaster reported.
Aerial images released by The Weather Channel showed a badly damaged area of the city spanning several blocks with numerous houses without roofs or walls, some of them toppled, and overturned vehicles in the streets.
The National Weather Service also reported tornado activity destroyed multiple homes and downed trees in and around Little Rock.
The tornado struck the capital city of Arkansas as a huge front of extreme spring weather cuts across much of the United States, threatening the central part of the nation from Texas to the Great Lakes with dangerous thunderstorms and tornadoes.
Storms loom over at least 15 states
Huge storms loomed over at least 15 states in the north central and southern United States on Friday and forecasters urged people to prepare for dangerous weather that will include tornadoes. They warned that conditions are similar to those a week ago that caused a devastating whirlwind that killed at least 21 people in Mississippi.
More than 85 million people were under weather advisories Friday morning after the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center forecast an unusually large set of thunderstorms, possibly including hail, gusty winds destructive and strong tornadoes that could travel great distances above the ground.
The highest risk area for storms is a large stretch of the Mississippi River, from the state of Wisconsin to Mississippi, while two high-risk advisories focused on Memphis, Tennessee, and the Iowa-Illinois border area.