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Death toll rises to 26 after tornadoes sweep across the South and the Midwest

Damage from a late-night tornado is seen in Sullivan, Ind., Saturday. Multiple deaths were reported in the area following the storm.
Doug McSchooler
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AP
Damage from a late-night tornado is seen in Sullivan, Ind., Saturday. Multiple deaths were reported in the area following the storm.

Updated April 1, 2023 at 5:22 PM ET

At least 26 people were killed after a powerful storm system barreled through large swaths of the South and Midwest on Friday.

The series of grueling tornadoes come just a week after a rare, long-lasting twister left 25 people dead in western Mississippi and one person in Alabama.

In Tennessee, nine people died in McNairy County, near the Mississippi border, following severe weather, according to The Associated Press.

"The damage and loss that our community suffered last night was catastrophic," the Adamsville Police Department in McNairy County saidon social media Saturday.

In Covington, Tenn., the local police department saidthe city was "impassable" in the wake of a tornado. Homes were battered, power lines were downed and search and rescue teams were deployed, according to police.

Homes damaged by a tornado are seen on Friday in Little Rock, Ark. Tornados damaged hundreds of homes and buildings Friday afternoon across a large part of Central Arkansas.
Benjamin Krain / Getty Images
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Getty Images
Homes damaged by a tornado are seen on Friday in Little Rock, Ark. Tornadoes damaged hundreds of homes and buildings Friday afternoon across a large part of Central Arkansas.

In Arkansas, multiple tornadoes tore through the state, along with severe thunderstorms and golf ball-size hail. Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders declareda state of emergency and activated 100 members of the state's National Guard in response to the deadly weather.

At least four people died and dozens more were injured in the city of Wynne in east Arkansas, Cross County Coroner Eli Long told KAIT-TV.

In Little Rock, at least one person was killed and two dozen were hospitalized, local officials said. Homes, apartment complexes and storefronts were severely damaged, according to the Little Rock Police Department.

"As dawn breaks we start the long process of recovery and rebuilding," the city's mayor, Frank Scott Jr., wrote on Twitter Saturday morning.

Emergency responders rest after helping residents evacuate an apartment complex Friday in Little Rock.
Benjamin Krain / Getty Images
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Getty Images
Emergency responders rest after helping residents evacuate an apartment complex Friday in Little Rock.

A series of storms that included a tornado and baseball-size hail also brought devastation to Illinois. In Belvidere, a city northwest of Chicago, one person died and 28 were injured after the roof of the Apollo Theatre caved in.

About 260 people were at the venue to attend a heavy metal concert and calls about a collapse began to come in at 7:48 p.m. local time, Belvidere Fire Chief Shawn Schadle told theAP.

In Crawford County, Ill., near the Indiana border, three people were killed and eight more were injured, county Board Chair Bill Burke told the AP on Saturday.

The remains of an apartment complex damaged by a tornado are seen on Friday in Little Rock.
Benjamin Krain / Getty Images
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Getty Images
The remains of an apartment complex damaged by a tornado are seen on Friday in Little Rock.

In Indiana's Sullivan County, three people were dead after a tornado charged through, the AP reported.

"Our worst fears became a reality earlier when we learned that members of our community have lost their lives," Sullivan County Sheriff Jason Bobbitt saidon Saturday.

One elderly woman was killed in Madison County in northern Alabama after a tornado struck her home, County Coroner Dr. Tyler Berryhill told NPR.

The damaged remains of the Walnut Ridge neighborhood in Little Rock on Friday.
Benjamin Krain / Getty Images
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Getty Images
The damaged remains of the Walnut Ridge neighborhood in Little Rock on Friday.

At least one person has died and four others were injured in Pontotoc County in northern Mississippi due to severe weather, according to theMississippi Emergency Management Agency.

More than 559,000 customers in Indiana, Illinois, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin were without power as of Saturday afternoon, according to Poweroutage.us, which tracks outages.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Juliana Kim
Juliana Kim is a weekend reporter for Digital News, where she adds context to the news of the day and brings her enterprise skills to NPR's signature journalism.