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Violent storms kill at least 37 in 4 US states

 In this aerial photo, a home is shown swept away Saturday, March 3, 2012, in Holton, Indiana, after a tornado swept through the town Friday.  A strin...
 Neighbors comfort one another amid the debris that once was their homes along Highway 160 in Henryville, Ind., Saturday, March 3, 2012. Under bright,...
 Residents clean up their damaged house in Marysville, Ind., Saturday, March 3, 2012. Massive thunderstorms, predicted by forecasters for days, threw ...
 Two men work to secure a tarp to cover the roof of a home along Highway 160 in Henryville, Ind., Saturday, March 3, 2012 as residents try to recover ...
 In this aerial photo, a television news helicopter flies over damaged homes Saturday, March 3, 2012, in Henryville, Indiana, after a tornado swept th...

Severe Weather

In this aerial photo, a home is shown swept away Saturday, March 3, 2012, in Holton, Indiana, after a tornado swept through the town Friday. A strin...

Severe Weather

Neighbors comfort one another amid the debris that once was their homes along Highway 160 in Henryville, Ind., Saturday, March 3, 2012. Under bright,...

Severe Weather

Residents clean up their damaged house in Marysville, Ind., Saturday, March 3, 2012. Massive thunderstorms, predicted by forecasters for days, threw ...

Severe Weather

Two men work to secure a tarp to cover the roof of a home along Highway 160 in Henryville, Ind., Saturday, March 3, 2012 as residents try to recover ...

Severe Weather

In this aerial photo, a television news helicopter flies over damaged homes Saturday, March 3, 2012, in Henryville, Indiana, after a tornado swept th...

Emergency crews desperately searched for survivors Saturday after a violent wave of storms swept through the U.S. Midwest and South, flattening some rural communities and leaving behind a trail of destruction: shredded homes, downed power lines and streets littered with tossed cars. At least 38 people were killed.
Amid the destruction, startling stories of survival began to emerge, including that of a baby girl found alive in a field 10 miles (16 kilometers) from her Indiana home and a couple who were hiding in a restaurant basement when a school bus crashed through the building's wall.
The storms, predicted by forecasters for days, killed at least 38 people in five states _ Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio. State troopers, the National Guard and rescue teams made their way Saturday through counties cut off by debris-littered roads and knocked down cellphone towers in a search for survivors.
The landscape was littered with everything from sheet metal and insulation to crushed cars and, in one place, a fire hydrant, making travel difficult.
No building was left untouched in West Liberty, a small eastern Kentucky farming town in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Two white police cruisers had been picked up and tossed into city hall, and few structures were recognizable.
The Rev. Kenneth Jett of the West Liberty United Methodist Church recalled huddling with four others in a little cubby hole in the basement as the church collapsed in the storm.
The pastor and his wife had just returned to the parsonage from a trip to a city about an hour away when he turned on the TV and saw that the storm was coming. Jett yelled to his wife that they needed to take shelter in the basement of the church next door. They were joined by two congregants who were cleaning the church and a neighbor. As they ran for the basement stairs, they could see the funnel cloud approaching.
The last one down was Jett's wife, Jeanene.
"I just heard this terrific noise," she said. "The windows were blowing out as I came down the stairs."
The building collapsed, but they were able to get out through a basement door. They escaped with only bumps and bruises.
"We're thankful to God," Jett said. "It was a miracle that the five of us survived."
A baby girl was found in a field in Salem, Indiana, about 10 miles (16 kilometers) north of New Pekin, where her family lives, said Melissa Richardson, spokeswoman at St. Vincent Salem Hospital, where the little girl was initially taken.
The baby, who was not identified, was in critical condition at Kosair Children's Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky, said spokesman Brian Rublein. Family members were with her, but he would not provide more details.
Authorities were still trying to figure out how the baby ended up in the field alone. It was not immediately known whether a tornado swept the girl up from her home, and if so, if any other family members were injured in the storms.
About 20 miles (30 kilometers) east, a twister demolished Henryville, Indiana, the birthplace of Kentucky Fried Chicken founder Colonel Harland Sanders. The second story of the elementary school was torn off, and wind blew out the windows and gutted the Henryville Community Presbyterian Church. Few recognizable buildings remained.
A secretary at the school said a bus left Friday afternoon with 11 children, but the driver turned back after realizing they were driving straight into the storm. The children were ushered into the nurse's station and were hiding under tables and desks when the tornado struck. None were hurt.
The school bus, which was parked in front of the school, was tossed several hundred yards (meters) into the side of a nearby restaurant.
Todd and Julie Money were hiding there, having fled their Scottsburg home, which has no basement. They were in the basement of their friend's restaurant when the tornado struck.
"Unreal. The pressure on your body, your ears pop, trees snap," Todd Money said. "When that bus hit the building, we thought it exploded."
"It was petrifying," Julie Money added. "God put us here for a reason."
Friday's tornado outbreak came two days after an earlier round of storms killed 13 people in the Midwest and South, and forecasters at the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center had said the day would be one of a handful this year that warranted its highest risk level. The weather service issued 297 tornado warnings and 388 severe thunderstorm warnings from Friday through early Saturday. In March, a storm of its magnitude happens once a decade, meteorologists said.
However, the storm still didn't measure up to the one on April 27, when tornadoes killed more than 240 people in Alabama. On that day, 688 tornado warnings and 757 severe thunderstorm warnings were issued from Texas to New York, said Greg Carbin, warning coordination meteorologist at the storm prediction center.
More severe storms were expected Saturday across parts of southern Georgia and northern Florida.
The storms have been carrying strong winds that change direction and increase in speed as they rise in the atmosphere, creating a spin, said Corey Mead, a storm prediction center meteorologist. The tornadoes develop when cold air in the storm system moving east from the Mississippi River Valley hits warm air coming north from the Gulf of Mexico, he said.
Fourteen people died in Indiana, and 19 were killed in Kentucky, where National Guard troops, state troopers and rescue workers searched counties east and south of Lexington on Saturday. Three deaths were reported in Ohio, and one each in Alabama and Georgia.
___
Suhr reported from New Pekin, Indiana. Associated Press writers Tom LoBianco in Indianapolis and Bruce Schreiner in East Bernstadt, Kentucky, contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-05-08 13:18 GMT+08:00