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    Tornado slams US town, downed tree kills mother

    Louisiana: A tornado slammed a southwestern Louisiana town, killing a young mother who was sheltering her child and injuring 11 other people.

    More than 100 homes were damaged, many of them destroyed, authorities said, and about 1,500 people were evacuated because of natural gas leaks.

    Maxine Trahan, a spokeswoman for the Acadia Parish Sheriff's Office, said 21-year-old Jalisa Granger was killed when a tree fell on her house.

    "She sheltered the child to protect her from the storm and a tree fell on the house and it killed the mother but the child was OK," Trahan said. A relative who lived nearby found the woman.

    Authorities say at least 11 people were injured on Saturday by the tornado, which brought winds reaching 217 kph and had sprung from a vast storm system kicking up abundant moisture from the Gulf of Mexico.

    That storm system was poised to spread rain on Sunday up the Carolinas and into the Northeast as forecasters warned of the threat of heavy rains in the Southeast and a mix of rain and snow farther north.

    Debris was littered throughout Rayne, a town of about 8,500 people some 115 kilometres west of Baton Rouge. A line of violent thunderstorms moved through the area and left behind a swath of damage about a quarter of a mile wide to
    three miles long.

    In Rayne, sheet metal roofing clung to trees, chunks of homes were ripped and tossed about, and downed tree limbs smashed cars. A US Postal Service truck was flipped to its side.

    Trahan said the natural gas leaks, which were later fixed, delayed authorities trying to count how many homes and businesses were damaged.

    About 1,500 people were ordered out of the area for the night, she said, because officials feared more gas leaks could occur.

    A temporary shelter was set up at a fire station, about two dozen people were there during the night. A curfew was imposed for the storm-damaged area until early on Sunday, which was in part meant to keep looters away.