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Deaths in 5 Southern states

Dozens of tornadoes spawned by a powerful storm system wiped out entire towns across a wide swath of the South, killing at least 194 people, and officials said Thursday they expect the death toll to rise. The south is experiencing one of the deadliest outbreaks in nearly 40 years.


Greg Bluestein - Associated Press

A tornado has flattened Pleasant Grove, Ala., a subdivision of Mountain Grove, Thursday, April 28. 2011.


“We were in the bathroom holding on to each other and holding on to dear life,” said Samantha Nail, who lives in a blue-collar subdivision in the Birmingham suburb of Pleasant Grove where the storm slammed heavy pickup trucks into ditches and obliterated tidy brick houses, leaving behind a mess of mattresses, electronics and children’s toys scattered across a grassy plain where dozens used to live. “If it wasn’t for our concrete walls, our home would be gone like the rest of them.”

Associated Press

Butch Dill - Associated Press

Residents search through what is left of their homes Thursday, April 28, 2011 after a tornado hit Pleasant Grove just west of downtown Birmingham, Ala., Wednesday afternoon.


Butch Dill - Associated Press

Vicki Wood searches through what is left of her daughter’s home Thursday, April 28, 2011 after a tornado hit Pleasant Grove just west of downtown Birmingham, Ala., Wednesday afternoon.


Butch Dill - Associated Press

Lisa Kirby, left, and Belinda Jones help an injured Golden Retriever whose owner was killed when a tornado hit Pleasant Grove just west of downtown Birmingham yesterday afternoon on Thursday, April 28, 2011, in Birmingham, Ala. President Barack Obama said he would visit Alabama Friday to view damage and meet with the governor and families devastated by the storms. Obama has already expressed condolences by phone to Gov. Robert Bentley and approved his request for emergency federal assistance.


Butch Dill - Associated Press

A resident drives his damaged car away after a tornado hits Tuscaloosa yesterday afternoon on Thursday, April 28, 2011, in Birmingham, Ala.


One of the hardest-hit areas was Tuscaloosa, a city of more than 83,000 and home to the University of Alabama. The city’s police and other emergency services were devastated, the mayor said, and at least 15 people were killed.

Associated Press

David Bundy - Associated Press

Heather Sanford, a University of Alabama student, looks for her belongings in what used to be the Arlington Square Apartments in the Alberta City neighborhood Thursday April 28, 2011, after a Tornado struck Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Wednesday. President Barack Obama said he would visit Alabama Friday to view damage and meet with the governor and families devastated by the storms. Obama has already expressed condolences by phone to Gov. Robert Bentley and approved his request for emergency federal assistance.


Jay Reeves - Associated Press

University of Alabama Air Force ROTC cadet Kristin Wolse, left, carries a dog she and other AFROTC students rescued from a house hit by a tornado, Thursday, April 28, 2011, in the Alberta City area of Tuscaloosa, Ala. The dog died soon after this image was made.


Jay Reeves - Associated Press

Sal Merritt, left, and Edrich Barnes rest outside the remains of Alberta Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Thursday, April 28, 2011. The church was badly damaged by a tornado that left a path of destruction hundreds of yards wide.


Dave Martin - Associated Press

Cullman resident Angela Gray reacts as she waits for help on the steps of the Cullman County Courthouse in Cullman, Ala., Thursday, April 28, 2011. Gray’s home was destroyed by a tornado that hit the town.


The Anniston Star, Bill Wilson - Associated Press

Joyce Hartsfield hugs Laura Gibbs in Calhoun County, Ala. on Thursday, April 28, 2011. President Barack Obama said he would visit Alabama Friday to view damage and meet with the governor and families devastated by the storms. Obama has already expressed condolences by phone to Gov. Robert Bentley and approved his request for emergency federal assistance.


Alabama’s state emergency management agency said it had confirmed 128 deaths, while there were 32 in Mississippi, 15 in Tennessee, 11 in Georgia and eight in Virginia. The governors in Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia each issued emergency declarations for parts of their states.

Associated Press

Athens Banner-Herald, David Manning - Associated Press

Lightning streaks above Cornith Baptist Church in Athens, Ga., as a line of severe thunderstorms sweep across Georgia in the early morning on Thursday, April 28, 2011.


Atlanta Journal & Constitution, Bob Andres - Associated Press

Morgan Cantrell gives her nephew, Brayson Hyde, a hug after staying with her family during the storm, in Bartow County, Ga. on Thursday, April 28, 2011. Dozens of tornadoes ripped through the South, flattening homes and businesses and killing at least 215 people in six states.


Atlanta Journal & Constitution, Bob Andres - Associated Press

John Franklin, Jr, and his wife Kathy, help recover belongings from their son’s home, in Bartow County, Ga. on Thursday, April 28, 2011.


Chattanooga Times Free Press, Dan Henry - Associated Press

The path taken by a tornado can be seen by the direction of fallen trees in Catoosa County, Ga., on Thursday, April 28, 2011, after overnight storms hit the North Georgia and Chattanooga, Tenn. area.


In Choctaw County, Miss., a Louisiana police officer was killed Wednesday morning when a towering sweetgum tree fell onto his tent as he shielded his young daughter with his body, said Kim Korthuis, a supervisory ranger with the National Park Service. The girl wasn’t hurt.

Associated Press

Rogelio V. Solis - Associated Press

An Easter cross stands before the remains of the Smithville Baptist Church in Smithville, Miss., Thursday, April 28, 2011, following a tornado touchdown Wednesday afternoon that destroyed much of the small community and caused at least 14 deaths.


Rogelio V. Solis - Associated Press

Although Smithville Baptist Church was destroyed, the choir robes survived showing very little wear from Wednesday’s tornado touchdown in the small northeastern Mississippi town, Thursday, April 28, 2011.


Rogelio V. Solis - Associated Press

Jessica Monaghan wipes a tear away as she surveys the damage in Smithville, Miss., while her nine-month old son Glade Scott sleeps, Thursday, April 28, 2011, following a tornado touchdown Wednesday afternoon that destroyed much of the small community.


J. Scott Applewhite - Associated Press

Storm clouds pass over the Pentagon,Thursday, April 28, 2011, during tornado alerts in the Washington region.

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