US tornado death toll rises to 344; Facebook reconnects with photos

US tornado death toll rises to 344; Facebook reconnects with photos

The death toll from the tornadoes that ripped across the southern United States has risen to 344, according to the US government Saturday, as homeless families sought to sort out their lives, dpa reported.

The deaths were caused by tornadoes over 48-hours from Tuesday to Thursday morning, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said.

The twisters carried personal belongings from destroyed homes sometimes for hundreds of kilometres. But some families are reconnecting with lost documents and belongings via photos posted on a Facebook page set up by an Alabama woman.

The page, Pictures and Documents found after the April 27, 2011 Tornadoes, now sports more than 1,000 photos and has drawn 69,000 visitors. In one case, a granddaughter was connected to someone who had found a photo of her grandfather who had been killed in a tornado.

The twister had carreid the photo 280 kilometres from Mississippi to Tennessee, The Washington Post reported.

Most of the deaths - 334 - occurred during a single 24-hour period from Wednesday to Thursday, making it the "deadliest single day for tornadoes" since March 18, 1925, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said. The National Weather Service estimated there were 211 tornadoes in that period.

President Barack Obama toured tornado damage Friday in Alabama, saying he had "never seen devastation like this."

Some of the worst damage occurred in Tuscaloosa, an Alabama city where several blocks were obliterated. On 25th Avenue, spray-paint markings were visible on houses where rescue workers had left a visible record after searching for the living and the dead in the wreckage left by Wednesday's storms.

Storm survivors and rescue workers continued picking through rubble in hardest-hit Alabama, where at least 194 people died. Damage in the state was centred in Tuscaloosa and Birmingham.

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