(CNN) — As severe weather moved eastward, the devastation mounted Thursday in parts of the Midwest where hundreds mourned the deaths of loved ones and clung to hopes they’d be found alive following a wave of powerful tornadoes.
Severe thunderstorm warnings and watches extended from South Carolina north along the Appalachian mountains to West Virginia on Thursday evening. Tornado watches that had been issued the same night for parts of Pennysylvania, New York and Vermont, meanwhile came and went without any signs of significant damage.
Two people died Thursday evening in Atlanta, at the southern edge of the storm system, after trees fell on two vehicles, said city police spokeswoman Kim Jones. There were also numerous reports of wires and trees down throughout the city, though no indication of any tornado like those that ripped through the central United States earlier this week.
The worst-hit community is Joplin, Missouri. The twister that hit that city Sunday night was the single deadliest in the United States since modern record-keeping began 61 years ago.
Newton County Coroner Mark Bridges told CNN on Thursday night that the death toll from the EF5 twister — which had winds topping 200 mph — had risen to 126 people. Those bodies were being stored in temporary refrigeration units, while they are identified and eventually released to their relatives.