April 28, 2011 / 10:49 AM / 6 years ago

Death toll 128 in Alabama storms -officials

* Damage scattered over a wide area

* Floods a concern with rising rivers, saturated soils

* Obama declares federal state of emergency in Alabama

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., April 28 (Reuters) - The death toll from storms and tornadoes in the U.S. state of Alabama has risen to 128 people, Governor Robert Bentley’s office said on Thursday.

The storms were part of a series that have struck half a dozen southern states over the last few days, killing at least 155 people.

Damage in Alabama was spread over a wide area through the north and central part of the state, said Jennifer Ardis, Bentley’s press secretary.

The highest toll was in Franklin county in the rural northwest of the state where 18 people died, according to figures from the Alabama Emergency Management Agency.

Fifteen were also killed when a tornado -- possibly the largest in the state’s history -- slammed into the college town of Tuscaloosa on Wednesday. And 11 people died in Jefferson County, home to Birmingham, the state’s largest city, the agency figures showed.

U.S. President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency for Alabama and ordered federal aid for the stricken state.

“While we may not know the extent of the damage for days, we will continue to monitor these severe storms across the country and stand ready to continue to help the people of Alabama and all citizens affected by these storms,” Obama said in a statement on Wednesday night. (Reporting by Verna Gates in Birmingham; writing by Matthew Bigg; editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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