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via BBC News

US authorities in several Midwestern states are searching for survivors and clearing damage after a string of powerful storms and tornadoes left at least 37 people dead.

The states of Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Georgia and Alabama were all hit by the intense winds which flattened homes, lifted rooftops and downed powerlines.

An unknown number of people are missing after communication lines were damaged.

A total of 90 tornadoes and 700 severe weather events were reported on Friday.

Ohio Governor John Kasich has declared a state of emergency, the Associated Press reports.

President Barack Obama has offered federal government help to the affected states.

Correspondents say it will be impossible to make an immediate assessment of the full extent of the damage.

Tornadoes occur all year round in the US, although the strength of this week’s storms was unusual for the time of year – the peak period is March to May in the southern US and later further north.

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