Mississippi tornado leaves at least 8 dead
At least eight people were killed when a powerful tornado ripped through the Mississippi Delta on Friday night, leaving a trail of destruction in its path, officials said.
Seven victims were confirmed dead in Sharkey County after the town of Rolling Fork — about 60 miles north of Jackson — appeared to bear the brunt of the twister, coroner Angelia Eason confirmed to ABC News.
“What we found was devastation all around us,” Mayor Eldridge Walker said.
At least one person was killed in Silver City in neighboring Humphreys County, the local sheriff’s office told WJTV.
And in Yazoo County, two children were transported to Baptist Yazoo hospital in critical condition after becoming trapped in a home.
The deadly tornado touched down around 9 p.m. before sweeping northeast at 70 mph without weakening as it crossed into Alabama.
Walker, Rolling Rock’s mayor, said there were numerous injuries reported around the town and responders were working to get those people to hospitals, although the number of people injured remained unclear.
The Sharkey-Issaquena Community Hospital on the west side of Rolling Fork was damaged, WAPT reported.
The Sharkey County Sheriff’s Office in Rolling Fork confirmed reports of gas leaks and people trapped in piles of rubble, according to The Vicksburg News. Some law enforcement units were also unaccounted for in the county, according to the newspaper.
The National Weather Service confirmed that a tornado touched down in the area. In addition to destructive winds, the deadly storm produced golf ball-sized hail.
“You are in a life-threatening situation,” the weather service warned when the storm was closing in. “Flying debris may be deadly to those caught without shelter. Mobile homes will be destroyed. Considerable damage to homes, businesses, and vehicles is likely and complete destruction is possible.”
Cornel Knight told The Associated Press he was at a relative’s house in Rolling Fork as he watched the “eerily quiet” tornado approach the home from about a half mile away. He told everyone in the house to take cover in a hallway.
He said the tornado struck another relative’s home across a wide corn field from where he was, causing a wall to collapse trapping several people inside.
Rolling Fork is surrounded by an expanse of cotton, corn and soybean fields and catfish farming ponds. More than a half-dozen shelters were opened in the state by emergency officials.
Storm chaser Reed Timmer tweeted that the town was in immediate need of emergency personnel and that he was heading with injured residents of the town to a Vicksburg hospital.
Over 80,000 customers had lost power in Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee as of Friday night, according to poweroutage.us.
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said on social media that the state was sending additional emergency crews to the area.
“Many in the MS Delta need your prayer and God’s protection tonight,” he wrote. “Watch weather reports and stay cautious through the night, Mississippi!”
Earlier Friday, two passengers were killed when a car was swept away and two in southwestern Missouri during torrential rains that were part of a severe weather system. Four of the six people who were in the car at the time made it out of the water.
In another southwestern Missouri county, the search continued for a woman who was missing after flash flooding from a small river washed her car off the road. Two others who were in the car were rescued.
With Post wires