New York: A violent storm packing high winds and heavy rains ripped through Southern and Midwestern sections of the United States as it headed east on Saturday, leaving at least 22 dead and scores injured, according to officials and media reports.
At least five people were killed in Arkansas, according to officials, as first responders sifted through debris for more possible victims after tornadoes sliced through the state on Friday.
Officials also reported four deaths in Illinois and three in Indiana.
Meanwhile, the Tennessee Department of Health confirmed seven weather-related deaths in McNairy County, at the Mississippi border. Tennessee Emergency Management Agency Director Patrick Sheehan said the number of people injured and damaged structures in several counties were not yet determined.
“The majority of the damage has been done to homes and residential areas,” said David Leckner, the mayor of Adamsville.
Just south of the Tennessee border in Madison County, Alabama, 90-year-old Ovie Lasater was killed when a tornado destroyed her home, county coroner Tyler Berryhill said.
Tennessee officials warned that the same weather conditions from Friday night are expected to return Tuesday.
Fox News reported another death in Pontotoc County in neighbouring Mississippi.
In Illinois, three people were killed in Crawford County after the collapse of a residential structure, the state Emergency Management Agency said.
These were in addition to the 50-year-old man who died in Belvidere, a city in northern Illinois, after a roof collapsed at a theater with 260 people inside. Dan Zaccard, a senior emergency management official in Boone County, said on Saturday that the incident left 40 people injured.
The crowd at the city's Apollo Theatre was attending a concert featuring the heavy-metal group Morbid Angel, which was on its "Tour of Terror." One person was killed in Sussex County, Delaware, after a line of powerful storms tore through the region on Saturday night, an ABC News affiliate reported.
The National Weather Service on Saturday warned of thunderstorms moving across the eastern third of the United States, likely resulting in power outages and downed trees from winds with gusts over 60 mph (100 kph).
The National Weather Service had also issued tornado warnings for several other states, from as far north as Iowa to the southern state of Mississippi, where a twister last week killed 25 people and caused extensive property damage.
Calamity struck in the Illinois town of Belvidere, outside of Chicago, when severe weather caused the roof and part of the facade of the Apollo Theater to collapse while a heavy-metal band played on stage inside.
TV footage showed emergency personnel carrying out injured concert-goers on stretchers, while video posted on social media showed waist-high rubble on the floor of the concert venue, and a gaping hole in the roof.
Belvidere Fire Chief Shawn Schadle reported one death and 28 injuries, including five people hospitalised with serious injuries.
In Crawford County, in southern Illinois, three people died when a house collapsed, likely from a tornado hit, said Kevin Sur, spokesman for the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.
In the neighboring state of Indiana, three people were killed by a storm in Sullivan County, on the border with Illinois, several US media outlets reported, citing local authorities.
Overnight tornadoes also claimed one life in Pontotoc County, Mississippi, and one in Madison County, Alabama, emergency officials reported Saturday.
More than 610,000 homes were without power on Saturday, according to the poweroutage.us website.
As the storm tracked north-eastward, the highest number of outages on Saturday afternoon were in the states of Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Several mid-Atlantic states were under high wind warnings.
"Maximum wind gusts could approach 60 miles (100 kilometers) per hour throughout much of the Appalachians, upper Ohio Valley and Mid-Atlantic today," the National Weather System warned.
Tornadoes are common in the United States, especially in the center and south of the country.
President Biden on Friday visited the Mississippi city of Rolling Fork, one of the worst-hit areas in last week's tornado.
Tornadoes also caused damage in eastern Iowa and broke windows northeast of Peoria, Illinois. The storms struck just hours after Biden visited Rolling Fork, Mississippi, where tornadoes last week destroyed parts of town.
It could take days to determine the exact number of tornadoes from the latest event, said Bill Bunting, chief of forecast operations at the Storm Prediction Center. There were also hundreds of reports of large hail and damaging winds, he said.
“That’s a quite active day,” he said. “But that’s not unprecedented.”
More than 530,000 homes and businesses were without power as of midday Saturday, over 200,000 of them in Ohio, according to PowerOutage.us.
The sprawling storm system also brought wildfires to the southern Plains, with authorities in Oklahoma reporting nearly 100 of them Friday. At least 32 people were said to be injured, and more than 40 homes destroyed.
The storms also caused blizzard conditions in the Upper Midwest.
A threat of tornadoes and hail remained for the Northeast including in parts of Pennsylvania and New York.
In December 2021, tornadoes killed about 80 people in Kentucky.