At least 18 killed in central U.S. tornado outbreak

Photo credit: James Bryant (Tornado damage in Mayflower, AR)
A huge tornado killed 16 people in Arkansas yesterday, and another tornado killed two in Oklahoma. It was a day of violent weather Sunday, with twisters destroying hundreds of homes in Oklahoma, Louisiana and Kansas.

An outbreak of tornadoes tore across parts of the Plains and southeast Sunday. From the air, debris and destruction can be seen for miles across several states.

In Quapaw, Oklahoma, a tornado tore through downtown. Deadly twisters then moved into Arkansas, shredding buildings and homes, and killing over a dozen people.

"There had been ten confirmed fatalities so far - two children and eight adults," said David Hogue, public information officer, Falton County, Arkansas.

There is concern that more bodies could be discovered today.

"We've got people and dogs going through the rubble and trying to find whoever we can and whatever we can," Hogue said.

Volunteers and rescuers worked through the night to search some of the hardest-hit areas.

"All we want to do is just be here to help," said Jason Smith, Vilonia, AR.

For Phil Tawney and his family, weather alerts saved their lives.

"Luckily we had enough warning that we could get down in our hiding hole and we were sitting there and it went right over the top of us... came out and total destruction," he said.

Although their home is destroyed, they are grateful to be alive.

President Barack Obama says the Federal Emergency Management Agency will work with local officials in Arkansas. Obama, who is traveling in the Philippines, also sent his deepest condolences to those affected in several other states across the Plains and Midwest.  A total of 18 people have died in the storms. 

At least 31 tornadoes ripped through the Plains and South on Sunday.   Authorities say a tornado killed one person in the small northeastern Oklahoma town of Quapaw.