HOUSTON, April 28 (Xinhua) -- Authorities said 15 people were killed in a string of tornadoes that ripped across large swath of the central and southern United States late Sunday and early Monday, leveling houses, downing trees and reducing everything on their ways to rubble and debris.
Arkansas was the worst hit state as the State Department of Emergency Management confirmed on Monday morning that 14 people were dead statewide. The department earlier reported 16 were killed but adjusted the number later without explaining the discrepancy.
The most powerful tornado touched down in the west suburb of the capital city Little Rock late Sunday afternoon and moved on to its north suburb later before growing half mile wide, the U.S, Weather Channel reported.
Pictures from Twitter and Facebook showed in the towns ravaged by tornadoes in the area, houses were flattened, cars were overturned and electricity poles downed. Local TV footage showed a huge black column swirling at the time of the catastrophe.
There are no immediate words on how many were injured but media reports said dozens were hospitalized while some local emergency officials said the number is "numerous."
Crews are searching and cleaning the debris in an effort to recover the scene and rescue those who might have been trapped. The Arkansas National Guard are also checking vehicle-to-vehicle along a major interstate highway in the way of the tornado.
In Oklahoma a tornado touched down in Quapaw, a small town around 320 km northeast of Oklahoma City, the state's capital city late Sunday, the Oklahoman reported.
Media reports said earlier at least two have died, but an official later confirmed one was dead and six others were injured. Their injuries were believed to be non-life-threatening.
Local TV footage showed the 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.
Tornadoes were also spotted in Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska and Missouri. Officials said 25 people were injured and dozens of homes and businesses were destroyed by a tornado in the southeastern Kansas town of Baxter Springs.
There is no official word on how many tornadoes have been spawned by Sunday's storm, but media reports said more than 18 were spotted across the midwest and southern part of the country. Meteorologists said the tornado that hit central Arkansas could be rated as the nation's strongest twister to date this year.
Weather forecast showed more tornadoes could form in Louisiana and Mississippi on Monday.