Deadly tornadoes batter southern US states

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Damage in LouisianaImage source, City of Monroe
Image caption,
Homes were wrecked in Louisiana

At least 26 people have died after storms triggered tornadoes and flooding across several southern US states.

As many as 60 tornadoes ripped through Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi on Sunday, while severe storms also hit parts of Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas.

Hundreds of thousands of households were without power on Monday morning.

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MSEMA) confirmed 11 deaths across six counties on Monday.

Among them were Lawrence County Sheriff's Office Deputy Robert Ainsworth and his wife, Paula.

"Robert left this world a hero, as he shielded Mrs. Paula during the tornado," said the sheriff's office on Facebook.

An additional eight were killed in South Carolina, six in Georgia and one in Arkansas.

Image source, Reuters

In Louisiana, a number of homes were destroyed in the city of Monroe. The city's official social media account initially reported only minor injuries.

Sheltering during lockdown

Last week, the American Meteorological Society (AMS) issued guidelines for taking shelter during the coronavirus pandemic.

The vast majority of residents in the US are under stay-at-home orders.

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"Do not let the virus prevent you from seeking refuge from a tornado," the AMS said.

It advised making shelter plans in advance in homes or with neighbours, friends or families.

Public shelters in many communities are closed because of lockdown measures.

MSEMA urged people to continue to follow social distancing guidelines, even if they need to seek safety in a public shelter.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey declared a state of emergency on Sunday that suspended Covid-19 mitigation measures that may have prevented people from gathering in public shelters in the state.