At least eight people have been killed during a tornado in Texas, reports say, bringing the number of deaths from severe storms that have lashed the US’s south in recent days to 25.
A tornado touched down about 6:45pm local time (11:45am AEDT) in Garland, Texas, city officials said in a statement.
“Five deaths have been confirmed,” the Garland statement said.
“Extensive damage has been reported to vehicles, homes, and apartments in the same area.”
The deaths were “believed to be related to vehicles struck by the tornado,” the statement said, adding that there was also an unconfirmed number of injuries.
Three other people were killed in weather-related incidents in Collin County, the Dallas Morning News said, citing local police.
Chelsea Wade, a journalist with WBAP News, said a tornado destroyed a service station and mobile homes in Copeville, Collin County.
“Crews working to recover several from rubble. Mobile homes and gas station gone,” she tweeted.
Residents told the Dallas Morning News at least four tornadoes hit Garland, ripping off power cables and knocking over pylons.
At least 50,000 people were without power, the newspaper said.
Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas also in firing line
The tragedy came as millions of residents in the southern United States struggled to recover from fierce storms and floods that officials say left at least 17 people dead in Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas.
The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency earlier said it had confirmed 10 deaths from continuing storms which first moved through the state on Wednesday (local time).
Among the dead was a seven-year-old boy killed when a storm picked up and tossed the car he was travelling in, fire chief Kenny Holbrook told reporters in the town of Holly Springs.
Six deaths were confirmed in Tennessee, including three people found dead in a car submerged in a creek on Thursday, according to the fire department in Columbia, Tennessee.
Another person was killed in Arkansas.
In Alabama, where Governor Robert Bentley has declared a state of emergency to deal with the heavy flooding, tornadoes on Friday uprooted trees and tore off rooftops, with one touching down in Birmingham, the state’s most populous city.
“I have directed all state agencies to take necessary actions to be prepared to respond to the anticipated flooding across Alabama,” Governor Bentley said in a statement.
“We will actively monitor the flooding, and are prepared to respond to any requests for assistance.”
Footage taken by a drone in Birmingham showed homes flattened by the storm.
Four people in the city were taken to hospital with minor injuries, according to Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency Director Jim Coker.
A spokesman for the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Centre told NBC News that 25 tornadoes have hit the US’s south since Wednesday.
With more severe weather expected across the central United States, forecasters are warning of airport delays and flooded roads as travellers return home after the Christmas holiday.