Fatal Tornados Tear Through Central, Southern U.S.

Death count at 17 Monday morning

Devastating tornados in central and southern U.S.     Photo: fergregory/Getty Images

Tornados ravaged parts of Arkansas and Oklahoma on Sunday, devastating neighborhoods and claiming the lives of at least 17 people. The loss of life represents the first fatalities in the year's U.S. tornado season.

The death toll was highest in Arkansas, with 10 lives lost in Faulkner County, five in Pulaski County, and one in White County.

One person was also killed in the town of Quapaw, in northeastern Oklahoma.

One twister was nearly half a mile wide and slammed into the town of Vilonia, Arkansas, located just 10 miles west of the state capitol.

According to a spokesperson for the Arkansas Department of Energy, rescue crews are still sifting through the rubble and making sure there are no missing persons still to be recovered.

President Obama, who is currently in the Philippines, has pledged the support of the U.S. government to aid recovery. "Your country will be there to help you recover and rebuild as long as it takes," he said. 

The National Weather Service is warning that more severe weather might threaten areas in the southeastern United States on Monday, particularly in the Mississippi and Tennessee valleys.

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