(NBC News) At least 17 people are dead and hundreds of homes destroyed following a deadly night of tornadoes from Oklahoma to Arkansas.
Arkansas was hardest hit. At least 16 people there were killed and dozens more injured. Ten fatalities were reported in Falton County, where crews continue to search for survivors.
"We've got people and dogs going through the rubble and trying to find whoever we can, and whatever we can," says Falton County Public Information Officer David Hogue.
In all, at least 31 tornadoes were recorded. They formed late in the day, and were especially destructive in Arkansas because they struck as night fell. Oklahoma and Iowa reported one death each.
An Arkansas state police spokesman said that 30 cars and trucks were on the road as a twister roared over Interstate 40, and troops went car by car to check on drivers, but it appeared that no one had been killed.
The National Weather Service said that it expected the storms in Arkansas to be rated the strongest in the country this year, perhaps as strong as EF-3 on the weather service’s tornado scale. EF-3 twisters pack wind of at least 136 mph.
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