US: Mississippi tornadoes claim 23 lives, injure several overnight: Report
Mississippi (US): Several severe tornadoes ripped through the Deep South on Friday night, causing extensive destruction in southern U.S. state, Mississippi, resulting in the loss of at least 23 lives, demolishing numerous buildings, and causing immense damage to a rural town, news agency AP reported.
The mayor of the town expressed the devastation by saying, "My city is gone."
Early on Saturday, the agency verified that 23 individuals had lost their lives, while four were reported as missing, and many more had suffered injuries due to the tornadoes.
Shortly after, the agency cautioned that the number of casualties may increase, It Twitted: "Unfortunately, these figures are anticipated to alter."
Rolling Fork #mississippi monster. Damage is catastrophic. Multiple fatalities pic.twitter.com/KqWI8EDfc9— Adam Lucio (@AdamLucioWX) March 25, 2023
According to the National Weather Service, a tornado caused damage approximately 60 miles (96 kilometers) northeast of Jackson, Mississippi.
As the tornado swept through the rural towns of Silver City and Rolling Fork, it caused significant destruction and continued northeast without losing strength, reaching speeds of 70 mph (113 kph).
Extreme meteorologist @ReedTimmerAccu captured these videos of a #tornado approaching Rolling Fork, #Mississippi, and some of the first views of its devastating aftermath. #MSwx pic.twitter.com/gYKAYfEkyz— AccuWeather (@accuweather) March 25, 2023
The tornado continued through other towns, including Winona and Amory, and persisted through the night before moving towards Alabama.
Rolling Fork Mayor Eldridge Walker spoke with CNN and described how the town was devastated by the tornado, leaving almost nothing behind.
Videos captured at daybreak exhibited piles of rubble in place of houses, cars turned over on their sides, and trees stripped of their branches. In some instances, amidst the destruction, a house would appear untouched, as if no damage had occurred.
“My city is gone. But we are resilient and we are going to come back strong,” he said.
Rolling Fork, MS mayor Eldridge Walker on Fox: "Looking into my left and looking to my right all I see is devastated buildings [and] flat grounds where physical buildings used to stand. It is a terrible situation here." pic.twitter.com/KjKvYYTGj0— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) March 25, 2023
The National Weather Service issued an alert Friday night as the storm was hitting that didn’t mince words: “To protect your life, TAKE COVER NOW!” “You are in a life-threatening situation,” it warned.
“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.”
As the tornado approached the town of Amory, which is located approximately 25 miles (40 km) southeast of Tupelo, it appeared extremely strong on the radar. It was so intense that a Mississippi meteorologist stopped to say a prayer after receiving new radar information, according to the report.
Poweroutage.us reported that 40,000 customers were experiencing power outages in Tennessee, while 15,000 customers were affected in Mississippi, and 20,000 in Alabama. Rolling Fork and the surrounding region are known for their vast areas of cotton, corn, and soybean fields, as well as catfish farming ponds.
To provide aid, more than half a dozen shelters were opened in the state by emergency officials.
On Friday night, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves posted on Twitter to inform the public that search and rescue teams were working on-site, and that additional ambulances and emergency resources were being dispatched to the affected areas.
The Governor also requested that people keep those affected in the Mississippi Delta in their thoughts and prayers, saying, "Many in the MS Delta need your prayer and God's protection tonight."