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WASHINGTON (AP) -
President Barack Obama has declared an emergency in Alabama after a wave of tornado-spawning storms swept across the state Wednesday, killing at least 58 people.
In a statement released late Wednesday, Obama said he had spoken with Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and approved his request for emergency federal assistance, including search and rescue assets.
The president and first lady Michelle Obama offered condolences to families affected by the storms and commended "the heroic efforts of those who have been working tirelessly to respond to this disaster."
The White House declaration authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts in Alabama.
More than 70 people in four states have been killed by the storms, including at least 15 in Tuscaloosa, home of the University of Alabama.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)