At least 23 people were killed and dozens injured as a tornado and strong thunderstorms ripped across Mississippi in the United States late on Friday (Mar 24), the state’s emergency management agency said.
Four people were missing as search and rescue teams combed through the destruction looking for survivors after the storm struck Silver City, a town of 200 people in western Mississippi, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency said in a series of tweets.
“Unfortunately, these numbers are expected to change,” it said, referring to the death toll.
Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves confirmed the death toll.
“We know that many more are injured,” Reeves wrote on Twitter. “Search and rescue teams are still active. The loss will be felt in these towns forever.”
Search and rescue teams were also out in Rolling Fork, a town of 1,700 people that bore the brunt of the tornado, CNN reported.
“My city is gone, but we are resilient,” Rolling Fork Mayor Eldridge Walker said on CNN. “We are going to come back strong.”
According to Walker, 12 of the people who died were in Rolling Fork. He added that several people were trapped in their homes. “Rescue efforts are happening as we speak, they resumed early this morning.”
The twister left a trail of damage for more than 160km (100 miles). Television images showed uprooted trees, houses ripped apart and damaged motor vehicles. Many areas were without electricity.
“We tried to get ourselves into the middle part of the house and we did, we got in there and obviously it was coming right behind us because as soon as we got in there, we heard a big boom and didn’t hear anything else for a little while,” an unidentified resident of Winona told ABC News affiliate WTVA.
“So we walked out and then just came out to about 10 trees down in our yard.”
A Rolling Fork resident, Brandy Showah, also told CNN that the town was gone. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” she said, adding that her grandmother’s house suffered damage.
“My friend was trapped in her home a few houses down, but we got her out,” Showah said, adding that people who lived next to her grandmother were still trapped in their houses.