Victims left homeless over Christmas
US storms, tornadoes kill 14
Rescue workers and residents sifted through what was left of homes wiped out by a series of ferocious storms and tornadoes that tore through swathes of the US, killing 14 people.
The storms, feeding on unseasonable warm air, left a trail of destruction in rural communities from Illinois to Alabama.
More than a dozen tornadoes were reported in six states and television footage and pictures posted on social media showed homes flattened across several states.
Possessions and Christmas presents were shown strewn on the ground or left in a messy heap.
Power lines, trees and mobile phone towers were also toppled.
Mississippi was hardest hit, AFP reported.
Seven people were reported dead there, said the state's Emergency Management Agency.
Its public information officer said: "Most of these storms caused a lot of damage in north Mississippi, but our teams are out assessing the damage, trying to put a quantity on how many homes and how many businesses have been damaged."
Among the dead in Mississippi was a boy of seven after one particularly brutal storm picked up and tossed the car he was in, said fire chief Kenny Holbrook of Holly Springs.
Mississippi governor Phil Bryant declared a state of emergency in seven counties after the storms caused widespread damage.
Officials were inviting volunteers to step up or make donations as people returned to their homes to see what was left standing, if anything.
In the states of Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee, emergency crews searched the ruins of splintered buildings for several people listed as unaccounted for, while scores more people were reported injured throughout the region, Reuters reported.
Sources: AFP, Reuters