Curfew in Florida after storms leave 20 dead

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A dusk-to-dawn curfew remained in effect in parts of central Florida last night in the wake of furious thunderstorms and at least one tornado that raked the state on Friday, leaving 20 people dead and flattening hundreds of houses and mobile homes.

Rescue workers in four counties north of Orlando resumed their search for victims of the storm. Craig Fugate, the state emergency management director, warned that more bodies could be found beneath tangled mounds of rubble.

"I was praying, praying hard. I don't see how I lived," said James Pietro, 42, who was asleep in his trailer when he heard a roaring wind and snapping trees. He and his girlfriend cowered under the bed as the trailer was lifted and rolled several times.

The Governor of Florida, Charlie Crist, toured some of the worst-affected areas. In Volusia County alone, executives calculated, as many as 500 properties had been hit, causing at least $80m (£40m) in damage.

The storm was one of the worst in Florida's history, surpassing a 1962 twister that killed 17 people. Nine years ago, a string of five tornadoes struck central Florida, killing 42 people and destroying 2,600 homes.