Tornadoes Rip Through South, Killing 31

Pray for the victims of this terrible weather.

ATKINS, Ark. – The death toll from a line deadly tornadoes that tore through the nation’s midsection rose to 31 early Wednesday, as authorities prepared to go door-to door to search for more victims.

Four more people were killed in Allen County near the Tennessee state line, said Buddy Rogers, public information officer for the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management in Frankfort.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

ATKINS, Ark. (AP) — Authorities went door-to-door trying to find additional victims of tornadoes that killed at least 27 people, ripped the roof off a shopping mall and blew apart warehouses as they tore across four states.

The dead included 13 people in Tennessee, 11 in Arkansas, and a mother and father who died in Kentucky with their adult daughter. Those killed in Arkansas included another set of parents, who died with their 11-year-old in Atkins, about 60 miles northwest of Little Rock.

The family died from trauma when the storm their home “took a direct hit” from the storm, Pope County Coroner Leonard Krout said.

“Neighbors and friends who were there said, ‘There used to be a home there,'” Krout said.

The twisters, which also slammed Mississippi, were part of a line of storms that raged across the nation’s midsection at the end of the Super Tuesday primaries in several states. As the extent of the damage quickly became clear, candidates including Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee paused in their victory speeches to remember the victims.

Northeast of Nashville, Tenn., a spectacular fire erupted at a natural gas pumping station northeast of Nashville that authorities said could have been damaged by the storms. An undetermined number of people were reported dead.

Eight students were trapped in a battered dormitory at Union University in Jackson, Tenn., until they were finally freed.

Well after nightfall Tuesday, would-be rescuers went through shattered homes in Atkins, a town of 3,000 near the Arkansas River. Around them, power lines snaked along streets and a deep-orange pickup truck rested on its side. A navy blue Mustang with a demolished front end was marked with spray paint to show it had been searched.

Outside one damaged home, horses whinnied in the darkness, looking up only when a flashlight reached their eyes. A ranch home stood unscathed across the street from a concrete slab that had supported the house where the family of three died.

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