Sat Dec 03 13:43:43 CAT 2016

Baby blown 16km by tornado survives

©The Daily Telegraph, Sapa-AFP | 2012-03-05 00:43:38.00 Comments
Martha Righthouse comforts neighbour Debbie Gilbert amid the ruins of Gilbert's home in Marysville, Indiana. The latest in a series of powerful tornadoes cut a broad swathe across the US Midwest and southeast, killing at least 39 people in four states Picture: AARON BERNSTEIN/GALLO IMAGES

A toddler survived after being carried 16km by a tornado that killed her entire family.

Twenty-month-old Angel Babcock is in a critical condition in hospital after her mobile home in New Pekin, southern Indiana, was torn apart by a powerful tornado.

Her parents and siblings were among at least 39 people known to have been killed when a series of tornadoes struck in a swath of storms that battered much of the US on Friday.

Rescuers said Angel had suffered serious head injuries.

Washington County Sheriff Claude Combs said Angel was found near the bodies of her mother, Moriah Brough, 20, brother Jayden, 2, and two-month-old sister Kendall, who was still strapped into her baby seat. Her father, Joseph, 21, was also found dead.

Her grandfather, Jack Brough, said: "The doctors told us the next 24 to 48 hours are very critical. I'm just asking everyone to pray for my granddaughter and for my family."

The family was last seen lying in the hallway of their mobile home holding hands and praying as the tornado approached.

A neighbour, Jason Miller, ran over to offer them shelter in his larger mobile home, but was picked up by the tornado and hurled across the road. He has several broken bones.

Marcia Lanham, whose daughter Beverley is Miller's girlfriend, said: "He's a hero. He went next door to bring them over, and they all got killed."

Brough had been on his way to meet his daughter when the tornado siren went off.

He said: "We got in the car and started driving and as we got closer and closer, the whole area was flattened.

"I kept saying: 'Oh my God! Oh my God!' I was breathing so hard. I couldn't see my daughter's trailer for nothing. It was gone. Her entire life was about Joe and her children. She loved her kids; she was always with them."

The storms tore through 17 states, stretching from the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes. At one point, about a third of the US in the south and Midwest was under a tornado warning.

The towns worst hit were Marysville and Henryville in Indiana, and New Liberty, Kentucky, which are said to have been virtually wiped out.

Hundreds of people were injured, many seriously. Gilbert Acciardo, of the Laurel County Sheriff's Department in Kentucky, said he expected there would be amputations and a lot of severe head injuries.

In West Liberty, Kentucky, a four-year-old boy was ripped from his mother's arms by a tornado as they took shelter in the cellar of their farmhouse. Davlin Jackson's body was found alongside those of his great-grandparents.

At least 12 states suffered more than 100 tornadoes. They followed a storm in which 13 people died two days earlier.

The National Weather Service reported that four of the tornadoes that hit Kentucky were the worst in 24 years.

Television news showed extraordinary scenes of damage, including homes, schools and businesses torn apart and cars and buses tossed into buildings.

Church services were held throughout the stricken region yesterday.

President Barack Obama said the federal emergency management agency was ready to help.

"The scope and magnitude of devastation in some of our communities is unlike anything I have ever seen," said Kentucky governor Steve Beshear, whose office confirmed 19 deaths.

Trucks and trees were upended as the deadly funnels ravaged parts of eight states in the Midwest and south. A school bus smashed through the wall of a house, trucks were thrown into lakes, solid brick homes were reduced to rubble and wooden ones smashed into kindling. Mobile homes were flipped like tin cans.

Amateur video aired on CNN showed a gargantuan grey twister churning over West Liberty on Friday as a woman loudly prayed: "Oh God, take it away from us Lord!"

At least 14 people were killed in Indiana.

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