At least seven people have died after a tornado ripped through Mississippi, leaving a trail of destruction as it stretches through the Midwest.
The powerful twister tore through the region Friday night, causing widespread damage including downing power lines that have left thousands in the dark.
Over 30 million people are under a tornado warning through the evening, and are being warned to brace for 135mph storms bringing golf ball sized hail. The devastation has led authorities to warn those in its path are in a ‘life threatening situation’.
The National Weather Service has confirmed that the tornado touched down in the rural towns of Silver City and Rolling Fork at around 8:50pm, which have reported severe destruction.
At least seven people have died after a tornado ripped through numerous Mississippi counties
Severe damage has been reported in the town of Rolling Fork, Mississippi after the tornado ripped through homes and businesses
The tornado has left a trail of damage at least 100 miles long, and is reportedly heading towards Alabama. More than 84,000 customers had lost power in Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee as of Friday night, according to PowerOutage.us.
The National Weather Service issued an urgent alert after the tornado touched down, cautioning: ‘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.’
Search and rescue teams have been deployed to Sharkey and Humphreys counties in Mississippi, while first responders were forced to disperse injured victims to surrounding hospitals after the Sharkey-Issaquena Community Hospital saw significant damage.
Mississippi resident Corney Knight told the Associated Press that he, his wife and their 3-year-old daughter were at a relative’s home when the tornado hit, which he described as ‘eerily quiet’ just moments before.
He added the sky was dark but ‘you could see the direction from every transformer that blew’.
More than half a dozen emergency shelters have been set up throughout Mississippi after the twister ripped through homes and businesses.
After the twister first tore through the small town of Rolling Fork, Mississippi, storm chaser Zachary Hill tweeted: ‘The damage in Rolling Fork, Mississippi is BAD. People are trapped, we need help here.’
Authorities are stressing the urgency of the situation, and Hill said police begged him to get the message out: ‘Major tornado damage, we need as many ambulances as possible and any help for search and rescue in this town.’
Rolling Fork mayor Eldridge Walker told WLBT-TV the tornado left him unable to leave his home after it caused significant damage and downed power lines leading to his property.
‘The west part of Rolling Fork is a residential area, and just a number of houses over there have been completely destroyed,’ added former Rolling Fork mayor Fred Miller.
‘Highway 61, where most of our businesses are, all of the businesses on 61 have been completely destroyed. People are trapped in a couple of the eateries, and people are trying to get them out now.’
The National Weather Service has warned those in the tornado’s path are in a ‘life threatening situation’
Significant damage has been seen in the small town of Rolling Fork, Mississippi
Search and rescue teams have been deployed to Sharkey County, Mississippi after a severe storm ripped through the community
The tornado has come after several states through the Midwest were battered by a severe weather front, with southern Missouri hit by nearly three inches of rain Thursday night.
Torrential rainfall in the area led to the deaths of two people after their car was swept away in the deluge. Authorities said six young adults were inside the vehicle, however only four escaped.
The body of Devon Holt, 20, of Grovespring, was found at 3:30am, and the body of Alexander Roman-Ranelli, 19, of Springfield, was recovered about six hours later, Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Thomas Young said.
Reports indicate a suspected tornado also touched down early Friday in north Texas, damaging homes and downing trees and power lines.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards warned of potential tornados reaching the state into the weekend, as he urged residents to prepare for significant damage.
As the tornado continued to wreak havoc through the state, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves said in a tweet: ‘Many in the MS Delta need your prayer and God’s protection tonight.
‘We have activated medical support — surging more ambulances and other emergency assets for those affected. Search and rescue is active.’