Violent storms and at least one tornado swept through the southern US state of Mississippi late Friday, destroying buildings and knocking out power, at least 23 people were killed, authorities said Saturday.
At the same time, storms with golf ball-sized hail c over several southern states.
The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency confirmed that as of 6:20 p.m. Saturday, there had been
23 deaths, four missing and dozens injured
across the state.
The agency tweeted that search and rescue teams from numerous state and local agencies were assisting those affected.
Thousands of users in the states of Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee had no electricity.
The National Weather Service confirmed that a tornado caused damage about 100 kilometers northeast of Jackson, Mississippi.
The rural towns of Silver City and Rolling Fork reported extensive damage from the tornado, which without weakening was heading towards Alabama at 113 km/h through Winona, Amory and other towns.
The service was very clear in its alert: "To protect your life, TAKE CARE NOW!"
A home near Silver City, Mississippi, without power and affected by Friday night's tornado and storms.
"Your life is in danger," he warned.
“Flying debris can be fatal for those caught without shelter.
Mobile homes will be destroyed.
Homes, businesses and vehicles are likely to sustain serious damage, and total destruction is possible," the Weather Service said.
"At least 23 Mississippians were killed by violent tornadoes last night. We know many more are injured. Search and rescue teams remain active," Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves said on Twitter.
"The loss will be felt in these towns forever. Please pray that the hand of God be upon all those who lost family and friends."
The MEMA fears that the number of deaths, "unfortunately", will increase.
Television images showed
and debris strewn on the roads.
Debris from a construction site torn apart by the tornado in Rolling Fork, Mississippi, on Saturday.
My town has disappeared
," lamented Rolling Fork Mayor Eldridge Walker in Sharkey County to WJTV: "What we find is devastation all around us."
The mayor explained that he was unable to leave his house immediately after the tornado hit because there were downed power lines.
And he added that emergency workers were trying to get the injured to hospitals.
A resident of that Mississippi town, Cornel Knight, told
The Associated Press
that he, his wife and their 3-year-old daughter were at the home of relatives when the tornado hit.
He recounted that the sky was dark, but "you could see the direction of it for every transformer that blew up."
He indicated that everything was "absolutely silent" when it happened.
Knight said he was on the driveway until the tornado was, he estimated, less than a mile away.
He then asked everyone in the residence to take shelter in a corridor.
He commented that the tornado hit the house of other relatives on the other side of a large cornfield from where they were.
A wall of that residence collapsed
and trapped several people.
As Knight spoke by phone with the AP, he indicated that he could see emergency vehicle lights there.
Woodrow Johnson, a Humphreys County official, told CNN his wife startled him awake at the noise.
"It was a very scary thing," Johnson said, adding that his neighbor's house, a trailer, had "completely disappeared."
Source: AFP and AP
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