HOUSTON, April 27 (Xinhua) -- A violent storm system hit the central and southern United States Sunday, spawning powerful tornadoes and killing at least 12 people in Arkansas and Oklahoma, U.S. media reported.
The storm swept across the midwest, central and southern parts of the country Sunday afternoon. More than a dozen tornadoes formed and touched down in several states including Arkansas and Oklahoma, which were the worst hit.
Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe confirmed on Twitter late in the evening that 11 people were killed statewide.
There is no official number of the injured, but several officials told the media they believed "numerous" people suffered injuries.
The tornado ripped through the area around 7 p.m. CST and continued creating destruction for more than an hour, local TV KHTV said. An inter-state highway was shut down due to multiple wrecks, including overturned trucks and destroyed vehicles.
Houses in several towns were flattened, according to Sheriff Andy Shock with the Faulkner County Sheriffs Office. Emergency crews were scouring the area for missing people.
In Oklahoma, a tornado touched down in Quapaw, a small town about 320 km northeast of Oklahoma City, the state's capital, late Sunday, the Oklahoman reported.
Media reports said earlier at least two had died, but an official later confirmed one was dead and six others were injured. Their injuries were believed to be not life-threatening.
Meteorologists said the tornadoes developed extremely fast and went from a thundershower to a storm with rotation in minutes, which didn't provide much time for warning.
Local TV footage showed a tornado appeared to have ripped a path through the town center. More than a dozen building were completely destroyed in the area and dozens of others had major damage.
A string of tornadoes also touched down in Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri, and golf-ball sized hail rained down in some areas. Weather forecast said more tornadoes could form on Monday in the affected areas.