US & Canada

Three dead in US severe spring storm

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Media captionA resident managed to catch footage of the twister on camera as it tore through farmland in Noxubee County, Mississippi

The death toll in a storm that brought snow and rain to a vast swathe of the US has reached three, with several more injured in a possible tornado.

The deaths were reported in the states of Nebraska, Missouri, and Mississippi.

Tornado warnings are in effect in parts of North and South Carolina, and thousands remain without power as the storm drives up the East Coast.

Wind speeds peaked at 101mph (163km/h) in Sullivan, Missouri, the National Weather Service (NWS) said.

The first death was reported in Nebraska on Tuesday, when a woman was killed as she waded through heavy snow to reach her house from her disabled car. A utility worker in Missouri was electrocuted while repairing damaged power lines.

The third death, in Mississippi, occurred in the wake of a tornado in the eastern part of the state, an emergency official said.

'A war zone'

A tornado reportedly touched down in northern Arkansas, injuring four people, local weather officials said.

Image caption The storm brought torrential rain, tornadoes and high winds to southern areas

The storm inflicted heavy damage on Botkinburg Foursquare Church in Arkansas, about 90 minutes before evening services.

"If the tornado would have come an hour-and-a-half later, we would have been caught in it," the Reverend Ester Bass told CNN.

In Missouri, electricity crews were working to restore power to about 23,000 customers cut off during the storm. A state of emergency was declared around St Louis, Missouri, where about 25 suburban homes were damaged.

As he toured damaged neighbourhoods on Thursday, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon said he was thankful the loss of life had not been worse.

"You look at the amount of damage here and we could just as easily be talking about a number of people killed," Mr Nixon told the St Louis Post-Dispatch.

A resident of the area told local broadcaster KMOV that she had spent the night in her bathroom and was shocked when she awoke the next morning.

"It looks like a war zone, it doesn't look like my home," Alisa Daffin said.

Further north, snow, ice and wind also caused power cuts.

In Minnesota, Governor Mark Dayton declared a state of emergency after communities in the south-west of the state - already struggling to restore power from an earlier ice storm - were buried under heavy snow.

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