Tornado cuts a swath of devastation in the US state of Mississippi
A tornado wreaked havoc in southern Mississippi. As the authorities announced on Saturday, at least 25 people were killed and dozens more were injured. The tornado, accompanied by heavy rain and thunderstorms, made a real swath through several towns on Friday evening (local time). Tens of thousands of people in Mississippi and the neighboring states of Alabama and Tennessee were cut off from electricity.
Television footage from the tornado-affected locations showed destroyed homes and debris on the streets, overturned cars, shredded fences and uprooted trees. According to eyewitnesses, entire settlements were razed to the ground.
The death toll rose to at least 25 on Saturday. The fatalities were found in Sharkey, Humphreys, Carroll and Monroe counties. According to the authorities, a man died in Alabama when a trailer overturned due to the storm. Four people who were initially missing were found, the Mississippi disaster control agency said.
“My town is gone,” Mayor Eldridge Walker of the small town of Rolling Fork, Sharkey County, told CNN. When he was finally able to leave his house, he found “devastation all around”.
Rescue operations ran on Saturday in several counties located about 110 kilometers north of Jackson, the Mississippi capital.
“It’s a lot worse than I thought it would be,” Ricky Cox, whose Rolling Fork store was destroyed by the storm, told AFP. “All the shops on Highway 61 are gone.” Two of his friends were also killed in the storm.
Woodrow Johnson, a Humphreys County official, told CNN his wife woke him up and they both heard what sounded like a train. Now her house is destroyed.
“The loss will forever be felt in these cities,” Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said. US President Joe Biden called the images from the disaster area “heartbreaking” and promised federal aid to deal with the damage. “We will be there as long as it is necessary,” Biden said.
The US National Weather Service (NWS) issued a tornado and golf ball hail warning for the town of Rolling Fork and surrounding areas around 9 p.m. local time on Friday, urging people to seek shelter. The warning expired in the early hours of Saturday morning, the NWS said. More thunderstorms are expected.
Tornadoes are difficult to predict. They are relatively common in the United States, especially in the center and south of the country.
Just a few days ago, a tornado near Los Angeles in the US state of California caused considerable destruction. Wednesday’s storm toppled roofs off houses and spun cars. In January, a series of tornadoes in the states of Alabama and Georgia killed scores.