Tornadoes, storms rip US South, at least 284 dead

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  • Damage over several states, Alabama worst with 184 dead

  • Mile (1.6 km)-wide tornado tears through university town

  • Damage costs may be in billions of dollars, expert says

  • White House says Obama to visit Alabama on Friday (Updates with insurance expert, Daimler, Jefferson county)

By Verna Gates

TUSCALOOSA, Ala., April 28 (Reuters) - Tornadoes and violent storms ripped through seven southern U.S. states, killing at least 284 people in the country's deadliest series of twisters in nearly four decades.

The clusters of powerful tornadoes -- more than 160 reported in total -- combined with storms to cut a swath of destruction heading west to east over several days. In some areas, whole neighborhoods were flattened, cars flipped over and trees and power lines felled, leaving tangled wreckage.

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