Thirteen killed by falling goalpost as tornadoes hit south and midwest


At least 13 people have been killed by tornadoes and flooding in the south and midwest, including a two-year-old girl who died after being hit by a falling soccer goalpost in Tennessee.

Tornadoes hit several small towns in east Texas, killing four people. Three people were killed by flooding and winds in Arkansas, with officials saying two small children were missing.

In Missouri two people were killed by flood waters and two fatalities were reported in Mississippi, one of whom was a seven-year-old boy electrocuted after unplugging a golf cart.

Flooding closed part of Interstate 44 near Hazelgreen, Missouri, and officials expected it would be at least a day before the highway reopened. Interstate 70 in western Kansas was closed because crews were waiting for snow falling at three to four inches an hour being blown by 35mph winds to subside.

An Arkansas volunteer fire department chief was killed while working during storms in north-central Arkansas, state police said.

In Tennessee, the metro Nashville police department posted on its Twitter page on Sunday evening that Melanie Espinoza Rodriguez was killed after being struck by the heavy, metal goalpost. She was taken to Vanderbilt children’s hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Rescuers in north-west Arkansas continued Sunday to look for an 18-month-old girl and a four-year-old boy who were in a vehicle swept off a bridge by floodwaters in Hindsville, the Madison county sheriff’s office said.

In north-west Arkansas, a 10-year-old girl drowned in Springdale and the body of a woman who disappeared riding an inner tube on Saturday was found in a creek in Eureka Springs. A 65-year-old woman in DeWitt in the eastern part of the state was struck and killed in her home by a falling tree, officials said.

Severe storms including tornadoes killed four people in Texas, injured dozens more and left a trail of overturned vehicles, mangled trees and damaged homes, authorities said.

Search teams were going door to door, a day after storms cut a path of destruction 35 miles long and 15 miles wide in Van Zandt county, Canton mayor Lou Ann Everett said. The largely rural area is about 50 miles east of Dallas.

“It is heartbreaking and upsetting to say the least,” Everett told reporters.

Video from local television stations showed uprooted trees and overturned cars along rural, wet roadways, along with flattened homes. The storms flipped pickup trucks at a Dodge dealership in Canton and tore through the business.

Everett said authorities had confirmed four deaths, down from the five reported earlier, but cautioned that “it is a very fluid situation and that could change”. Searchers were using dogs to determine whether “anyone is trapped and needs help, or worse”, she said.

Fifty-six people were treated at three hospitals and six remained hospitalized on Sunday morning, two in critical condition, ETMC Regional Health Care Systems spokeswoman Rebecca Berkley said.

Officials urged people to stay away from the area. Rescue workers were dealing with gas leaks and downed power lines and trees, said Judge Don Kirkpatrick, the county’s chief executive. Fences also had been blown over, meaning livestock in the farming and ranching area were roaming free.