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Three children among six dead as tornadoes move across southern US states

Three children are among four who have died as powerful storms move across the south of the United States.

The deaths were in Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana, where storms have spawned tornadoes and flash flooding.

Suspected tornadoes and strong winds of up to 140 mph hit parts of Texas, destroying homes and injuring several in towns and cities around the state.

In East Texas, the Angelina County Sheriff's Office said an eight-year-old and a three-year-old died when strong winds toppled a tree onto the back of their family's car in Lufkin while it was moving.

Both parents, who were in the front seat, escaped injury.

A car flipped over in the storm. Credit: AP

A 95-year-old man died after a tree crashed onto his caravan in north eastern Mississippi, Monroe County Road Manager Sonny Clay said at a news conference, adding that a tornado had struck.

There was widespread damage in Alto, Texas, a town of about 1,200,and the school district cancelled classes until its buildings can be inspected to ensure they are safe.

The large storm system also unleashed flash floods in Louisiana, where two deaths were reported.

Thirteen-year-old Sebastian Omar Martinez drowned in a drainage canal after flash flooding struck Bawcomville, near Monroe, said Deputy Glenn Springfield of the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Department.

Separately, one person died when a car was submerged in floodwaters in Calhoun, also near Monroe.

The storms have destroyed some homes. Credit: AP

As the storm moved into Alabama, a possible tornado knocked out power and damaged mobile homes in Troy, about 50 miles south of Montgomery.

A county employee died after being struck by a vehicle while he was helping to clear away trees about 2:15am on Sunday near the Birmingham suburb of Hueytown, said Captain David Agee of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

The man, whose name was not released, died after being taken to a hospital.

Robertson County Sheriff Gerald Yezak told The Associated Press a tornado hit the small Central Texas city of Franklin, overturning mobile homes and causing damage to other buildings.

Franklin is around 125 miles (200 kilometres) south of Dallas.

Two people were hospitalised for injuries not thought to be life-threatening, while others were treated at the scene for minor injuries, Yezak said.

  • Hailstones 'the size of baseballs'
The huge hailstones have been spotted falling in Texas. Credit: @Jinga_saurus/Twitter

Hailstones the size of baseballs have been falling in Texas, with local residents describing the deluge as “devastating”.

Twitter user @Jinga_saurus, from Helotes, told the Press Association the large baseball-sized hailstones were mixed with others the sizeof golf balls.

“I have a metal roof and there was the sound of gravel with intermittent pops of larger hail stones,” they said.

“The intensity increased and then loud pops that sounded like baseballs on the roof were interspersed.

“I looked outside and could see what looked like baseballs scattered on the lawn.”

The stones 'looked like baseballs'. Credit: @Jinga_saurus/Twitter

The local resident, who did not reveal their real name, said the size of the hail is “unusual” but not unprecedented, with similarly large hail falling during a storm in Texas three years ago.

“That hail storm was historic in the amount of property damage it did,” they said.

“This is the season for thunderstorms- they get pretty violent. Thunder that will rattle your whole house.”

According to the Storm Prediction Centre, the storm was expected to move east going into Sunday.

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The weather service said preliminary information showed an EF-3 tornado touched down with winds of 140 mph (225.3 kph).

Crews will continue to survey the damage over the next few days.

Some people had to be freed from their homes.

Meteorologist Monique Sellers said they've received reports of downed trees, as well as damage to buildings and a transmission tower.