A series of tornadoes swept across South and Midwest US states on Friday, killing at least 27 people and leaving dozens missing.

The tornadoes hit the Midwest states including Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio, damaging homes and knocking out power in several areas.

The twisters damaged homes and tossed around vehicles, leaving at least 13 people dead in southern Indiana, another 12 in neighbouring Kentucky and two more in Ohio, the Reuters quoted the authorities as saying.

"Early reports indicate the heaviest damage is concentrated in southeastern Indiana including substantial damage in Henryville in Clark County, Marysville in Clark County, and Pekin and New Pekin in Washington County," read a statement from the Joint Information Center.

There were also reports of damage and injuries in Tennessee, Chattanooga and Knoxville and in Alabama, at least 10 injuries were reported in the Huntsville area.

"Friday's outbreak of tornadoes was a one-in-20-year event spawned by a combination of a cold front, high humidity and warm weather," Los Angeles Times quoted Angie Lese, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Louisville, Kentucky as saying.

This is the second time in a week that the twisters have ripped several states in the US. A series of tornadoes killed at least 13 people in Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Tennessee on Tuesday.

Storm warnings were issued earlier throughout the day, prompting schools and other businesses to close.

Rescue workers were searching for survivors overnight and dozens of people who were believed to be missing in the disaster.