Tornado Kills at Least 7 in N.C.
RIEGELWOOD, N.C. (AP) _ A tornado ripped apart a mobile home park in this tiny riverside community early Thursday, killing at least seven people and raising the death toll from a devastating band of thunderstorms sweeping across the South to 10.
Officials searching for victims amid the wreckage of Riegelwood cautioned that death toll still could rise.
Dozens of homes were destroyed when the tornado struck the Cape Fear River community, about 20 miles west of the coastal city of Wilmington. Searches had found seven bodies in the wreckage by midday, and ``that number very well may go up,″ said County Commissioner Chairman Kip Godwin, the designated spokesman for the county’s emergency management office.
``When a tornado hits a mobile home, it’s probably much more devastating,″ Godwin said. ``Most of these homes were blown off their foundations and are now just piles of debris.″
Two other people died in North Carolina car crashes amid in the storms’ strong wind and pounding rain early Thursday, and another person died Wednesday when a tornado struck his home in Louisiana as the storms began their path of destruction across the South.
In Riegelwood, the hardest hit community, rescue workers used back hoes and front-end loaders to search the rubble of the mobile home park.
Alton Edwards, a member of the volunteer Acme-Delco-Riegelwood Fire and Rescue team, said storm struck ``with very little warning.″
``There were cars on top of one another,″ he said. ``It’s just about as bad as it gets.″