The Nation

Apr 28, 2011 7:03 PM by Greg Boyce

Death toll nears 300

PLEASANT GROVE, Ala. (AP) - A spokeswoman for Alabama's governor says storms that devastated the South left 180 people dead in that state, bringing the total death toll in the region to 266.  Leah Garner, the deputy press secretary for Gov. Robert Bentley, said Thursday that the death toll in Alabama had climbed to 180.

The storms that spawned dozens of tornadoes were part of the deadliest storm outbreak in decades. There were also deaths reported in five other states: 33 in Mississippi; 33 in Tennessee; 14 in Georgia; five in Virginia; and one in Kentucky. A tornado expert is offering more details of the destructive
force carried by the tornadoes. The expert at the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center in Oklahoma says some of the tornadoes were as wide as a mile, and likely packed a wallop that only 1 in 100 twisters ever bring.

People in hard-hit areas in Alabama and other states have been looking at what's left of their obliterated homes today. Nearby streets are filled with debris. The mayor of Tuscaloosa, Ala., who flew over the area this morning, says some neighborhoods were "basically removed from the map."

The University of Alabama has canceled final exams and postponed commencement ceremonies.  

President Obama says the damage in tornado-stricken states in the south is "nothing short of catastrophic."


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