At least 23 people have been killed, including an eight-year old, as tornadoes struck Lee County in Alabama on Sunday night. County Sheriff Jay Jones fears that more bodies could yet be found.
Jones said that the damage caused by tornadoes that hit the Eastern Alabama county of Lee was “catastrophic”. Rescue efforts have been halted until dawn due to the danger of searching in the dark, and the number of injured is as yet unknown.
The National Weather Service (NWS) classified it as at least an EF-3 – meaning winds of up to 165mph (266km/h). They warned people to “stay out of damaged areas so first responders could do their job”.
Residents of Smiths Station told local TV they had seen businesses destroyed there. A large bar called the Buck Wild Saloon had had its roof torn off. Footage also showed snapped poles and roads littered with debris. Sheriff Jones said that some homes had been reduced to slabs.
Tornado warnings were also issued for Georgia, Florida and South Carolina. Footage showed smashed buildings and snapped trees in Talbotton, about 80 miles south of Atlanta.
Tornadoes were also reported in Walton County and Cairo in northern Florida.