The extreme weather, fueled by unseasonably warm air, is likely to continue for the next few days, the National Weather Service warned, complicating search and rescue efforts and possibly wreaking more havoc on the region.
Several tornadoes touched down around the densely populated Dallas area Saturday evening, the day after Christmas, with the city of Garland to the northeast the hardest hit.
Aerial footage taken as day broke showed some homes completely flattened, while others had roofs blown off and windows shattered, curtains fluttering in the wind.
“It is total devastation,” local police spokesman Lt. Pedro Barineau was quoted as saying by the Dallas Morning News.
It was here that authorities confirmed eight fatalities, adding that 15 people were taken to hospital with injuries.
About 600 buildings have been damaged, they said, with single-family homes most affected.
“Officials are continuing this morning to check and clear structures as they assess the damage in the approximate 2-square-mile (five-square-kilometer area) area,” officials said in a statement.
Police said the deaths happened during tornado-related traffic accidents near Interstate 30 and the George Bush Turnpike, the Dallas Morning News reported, saying some of the bodies were found in cars while others were catapulted from the scene.
Three other storm-related fatalities occurred in the towns of Copeville and Blue Ridge in Collin County to the northeast of Dallas, the local sheriff’s office confirmed to AFP, without providing more details.
The Dallas Morning News reported that an infant was among the dead.
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