LITTLE ROCK:

Arkansas rescue workers searched for survivors yesterday in the rubble left by a wave of tornadoes that ripped through the south-central United States a day earlier, killing at least 16 people in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Iowa.

Arkansas was the hardest hit, with at least 10 people dead in central Faulkner County and four more across the state, for the first reported fatalities of this year's US tornado season, authorities said.

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Strong winds wrenched houses off their foundations and flipped cars on top of the rubble in the small town of Vilonia in Faulkner County.

One person was killed in neighbouring Oklahoma and another in Iowa, state authorities said.