At least 23 people were killed and dozens injured as a tornado and strong thunderstorms swept across Mississippi late on Friday, the state’s emergency management agency said after the twister left a trail of damage for more than 160 km.
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.
Search and rescue teams were also out in Rolling Fork, a town of 1 700 people that saw the brunt of the tornado, CNN reported.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Brandy Showah told CNN. “This was a very great small town, and now it’s gone.”
Showah told the network 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 there were people who live next to her grandmother still trapped in their houses.
Rolling Fork was “pretty much devastated” and many people remained trapped in their homes, United Cajun Navy President Todd Terrell told ABC News.
His group is a team of volunteer rescuers.
Terrell compared the destruction to a tornado in Joplin, Missouri, in 2011 that killed 161 people.
At least 24 reports of tornadoes were issued to the National Weather Service on Friday night and into Saturday morning by storm chasers and observers.
The reports stretched from the western edge of Mississippi north through the center of the state and into Alabama.
Photographs of the destruction published by news networks showed entire buildings left in rubble and cars turned over on their sides as people climbed through the debris in darkness.
“Many in the MS Delta need your prayer and God’s protection tonight,” Governor Tate Reeve said in a tweet.
“We have activated medical support—surging more ambulances and other emergency assets for those affected. Search and rescue are active.”