Severe thunderstorms and numerous tornadoes ripped through the South Wednesday night, destroying hundreds of buildings and killing nearly 200 people.
As of Thursday morning, officials said 178 people died in five states. Alabama was the hardest hit. The state reported 128 deaths and hundreds of destroyed homes and businesses in several cities, including Birmingham and Tuscaloosa. "There is some massive devastation out there. We have some people that are hurting,” said Alabama Governor Robert Bentley.
Bentley asked federal assistance in dealing with the aftermath of the storms and President Barack Obama approved the request. "While we may not know the extent of the damage for days, we will continue to monitor these severe storms across the country and stand ready to continue to help the people of Alabama and all citizens affected by these storms," President Obama said in a statement Wednesday.
The number of missing and injured in Alabama is still unknown. Authorities expect the death toll to rise once search and rescue teams reach hard hit areas.
Mississippi reported major damages and at least 32 deaths while Georgia’s death toll was at 11 Thursday morning. Arkansas reported 6 fatalities. Tennessee and Virginia reported one death each.
President Obama released a written statement offering condolences to the families of victims. “Michelle and I extend our deepest condolences to the families of those who lost their lives because of the tornadoes that have swept through Alabama and the southeastern United States. Our hearts go out to all those who have been affected by this devastation, and we commend the heroic efforts of those who have been working tirelessly to respond to this disaster,” he said.
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