Mississippi Storm: United States President Joe Biden declared an emergency as deadly Mississippi tornado ripped through the US South causing massive damage. According to reports, the devastating tornado that tore through Mississippi towns has claimed at least 25 lives.
Rescuers raced Saturday to search for survivors and help hundreds of people left homeless after a powerful tornado cut a devastating path through Mississippi, killing at least 25 people, injuring dozens, and flattening entire blocks as it carved a path of destruction for more than an hour. One person was killed in Alabama.
The tornado devastated a swath of the Mississippi Delta town of Rolling Fork, reducing homes to piles of rubble, flipping cars on their sides and toppling the town's water tower. Residents hunkered down in bathtubs and hallways during Friday night's storm and later broke into a John Deere store that they converted into a triage centre for the wounded.
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Death toll had risen to 25
The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency announced late Saturday afternoon in a tweet that the death toll had risen to 25 and that dozens of people were injured. Four people previously reported missing had been found. Other parts of the Deep South were digging out from the damage caused by other suspected twisters. One man died in Morgan County, Alabama, the sheriff's department there said in a tweet.
President Joe Biden also promised federal help
Throughout Saturday, survivors walked around dazed and in shock as they broke through debris and fallen trees with chainsaws, searching for survivors. Power lines were pinned under decades-old oaks, their roots are torn from the ground. Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves issued a State of Emergency and vowed to help rebuild as he headed to view the damage in an area speckled with wide expanses of cotton, corn and soybean fields and catfish farming ponds. President Joe Biden also promised federal help, describing the damage as “heartbreaking.”
The damage in Rolling Fork was so widespread that several storm chasers — who follow severe weather and often put up live streams showing dramatic funnel clouds — pleaded for search and rescue help. Others abandoned the chase to drive injured people to the hospital. It didn't help that the community hospital on the west side of town was damaged, forcing patients to be transferred. The tornado also mangled a cotton warehouse and ripped the steeple off a Baptist church.
The warning the National Weather Service issued as the storm hit didn't mince words: “To protect your life, TAKE COVER NOW!” Preliminary information based on estimates from storm reports and radar data indicate that the tornado was on the ground for more than an hour and traversed at least 170 miles (274 kilometers), said Lance Perrilloux, a meteorologist with the weather service's Jackson, Mississippi, office.
(with inputs from AP)