A tornado system has ripped through the central United States and left at least 17 dead in a violent start to this year’s storm season.
A tornado touched down on Sunday about 10 miles west of Little Rock, Arkansas, then carved an 80-mile path of destruction as it passed through or near several suburbs north of the state capital, including Vilonia.
It grew to be a half-mile wide and remained on the ground for much of that route, killing 16 people in that state.
The tornado was the largest of several produced by a powerful storm system that rumbled through the central and southern US.
Another twister killed a person in Quapaw, Oklahoma, before crossing into Kansas, destroying 60 to 70 homes and injuring 25 people in the city of Baxter Springs.
Among the ruins in Arkansas was a new $14million (£8.3million) intermediate school that was set to open this autumn.
Emergency workers and volunteers went door-to-door to look for victims. Law enforcement officers checked the damaged and toppled 18-wheelers, cars and trucks on a stretch of Interstate 40.
Tornadoes also touched down in Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri.
In Arkansas, Pulaski County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Carl Minden said three people were killed when a tornado destroyed a home west of Little Rock.
“I’m standing on the foundation of the house now. It’s totally gone,” he said.
President Barack Obama sent his deepest condolences to those affected.