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Huge tornado kills 16 in Arkansas on day of violent weather; other twister kills 1 in Oklahoma

Monday - 4/28/2014, 11:30am  ET

VILONIA, Ark. (AP) -- The National Weather Service is warning that the central and southern U.S. will see more destructive storms today, with powerful winds, very large hail and possibly tornadoes.

Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Louisiana are facing the greatest risk.

Meanwhile, emergency officials in Arkansas have begun searching for survivors in the debris left by a powerful tornado that carved an 80-mile path of destruction through suburban Little Rock last night, killing at least 16 people. The tornado that slammed into Vilonia grew to about half a mile wide.

The National Weather Service in North Little Rock says it appears the twister could have been an " EF3 or greater," which means winds greater than 136 mph. Meteorologist Jeff Hood says officials are making sure utilities are cut off in the area to prevent fires.

Another tornado killed a person in northeastern Oklahoma, before crossing into Kansas and destroying 60 to 70 homes and injuring 25 people in the city of Baxter Springs.

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181-a-10-(Vilonia Mayor James Firestone, in interview)-"to deal with"-Vilonia Mayor James Firestone says the devastation from last night's deadly tornado was tremendous. COURTESY: NBC's "Today" show ((mandatory on-air credit)) (28 Apr 2014)

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182-a-06-(Vilonia Mayor James Firestone, in interview)-"through their belongings"-Vilonia Mayor James Firestone says many tornado survivors who fleed for shelter at the high school school last night don't know what, if anything, is left of their homes. COURTESY: NBC's "Today" show ((mandatory on-air credit)) ((watch for dating)) (28 Apr 2014)

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178-a-08-(President Barack Obama, at state dinner hosted by Philippines President Benigno Aquino)-"after each other"-President Obama says Americans stand with those who've been devastated by storms in Arkansas and Oklahoma. (28 Apr 2014)

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175-a-09-(Clayton Noble, tornado survivor, in interview)-"everything was gone"-Tornado survivor Clayton Noble says he and his family are heading back home today after losing everything in last night's storm. COURTESY: NBC's "Today" show ((mandatory on-air credit)) (28 Apr 2014)

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177-a-05-(Clayton Noble, tornado survivor, in interview)-"in that closet"-Tornado survivor Clayton Noble says things could have turned out much worse for his family, who took shelter from last night's storm in a bedroom closet. COURTESY: NBC's "Today" show ((mandatory on-air credit)) (28 Apr 2014)

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176-a-06-(Clayton Noble, tornado survivor, in interview)-"and held them"-Tornado survivor Clayton Noble says he and his family rode out last night's storm packed together in his daughter's bedroom closet. COURTESY: NBC's "Today" show ((mandatory on-air credit)) (28 Apr 2014)

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APPHOTO KSOW101: The remains of a home damaged by a tornado Sunday evening stands in Baxter Springs, Kan., Monday, April 28, 2014. The tornado left a trail of shattered homes, twisted metal and hanging power lines. One person died, but it was not clear whether the death was related to the storm. Volunteers were meeting early Monday to discuss cleanup efforts. Emergency officials say 60 to 70 homes and 20 to 25 businesses were destroyed or damaged in the town. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner) (28 Apr 2014)

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APPHOTO CER201: This photo provided by James Bryant shows tornado damage, Sunday, April 27, 2014, in Mayflower, Ark. A powerful storm system rumbled through the central and southern United States on Sunday, spawning several tornadoes, including one in a small northeastern Oklahoma city and another that carved a path of destruction through several northern suburbs of Little Rock, Ark. (AP Photo/Courtesy of James Bryant) MANDATORY CREDIT (27 Apr 2014)

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APPHOTO OKTUL101: DELETES REFERENCE TO DEATH TOLL - Quapaw, Okla., residents survey the damage in a residential neighborhood struck by a tornado on Sunday evening, April 27, 2014. A powerful storm system rumbled through the central and southern United States on Sunday, spawning a massive tornado that carved path of destruction through the northern Little Rock suburbs and another twister that hit in Oklahoma. (AP Photo/Tulsa World, Gary Crow) KOTV OUT; KJRH OUT; KTUL OUT; KOKI OUT; KQCW OUT; KDOR OUT; TULSA OUT; TULSA ONLINE OUT Gary Crow / For the Tulsa World (27 Apr 2014)

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APPHOTO MOJOP103: Twisted trees and power lines remain in a residential block near Military Avenue following the tornado in Baxter Springs, Kan., Sunday, April 27, 2014. A powerful storm system rumbled through the central and southern United States on Sunday, spawning a massive tornado that carved through Little Rock's northern suburbs and another that hit Oklahoma and Kansas. (AP Photo/The Joplin Globe, Roger Nomer ) (27 Apr 2014)

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APPHOTO TXKJ105: FILE - This Friday, April 15, 2011, file photo, shows an SUV that has come to rest on a tree in Tushka, Okla. A large section of the Midwest and South are at risk for strong tornadoes, severe thunderstorms and flash flooding this weekend, forecasters say. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File) (24 Apr 2014)

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