Saturday, April 24, 2010

UPDATE: 10 Across The State Killed As Tornado Tears Through Mississippi - Others Injured

Tornadoes ripped through the Southeast on Saturday, killing 10 people in Mississippi and injuring more than a dozen others.
  • State of Emergency declared in 17 Mississippi counties.
  • Severe weather still very active in the Southeast - including Alabama and Georgia; storms continue to redevelop.
  • Red Cross opens Shelters.
  • Sunday will be day-4 of severe weather outbreaks.

The swath of debris forced some of the injured to be picked up by all-terrain vehicles after a ¾-mile wide EF-4 tornado touched down in at least three counties in west-central Mississippi. Particularly hard hit was Yazoo City..

Tornadoes were also reported in Louisiana, Arkansas and Alabama Tennessee and Georgia, as the severe weather continues to track eastward.

"It's devastating. All of the buildings up in this area have had the roof torn off," said Straughter, estimating about 15 to 20 buildings had been heavily damaged.

Downed power lines and trees blocked roads, Straughter said by telephone as sirens whined in the background. At least four people had been brought by four-wheeler to a triage center at an old discount store parking lot in Yazoo City, which is about 40 miles north of Jackson.

Three counties were conducting a massive response, Mississippi Emergency Management Agency spokesman Greg Flynn said.

Jim Pollard, a spokesman for American Medical Response ambulance service, said two patients from Yazoo County, Miss., were airlifted to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.

More than a dozen people were treated for cuts, bruises and broken bones in Yazoo City, said Laura Henderson, who works at the hospital there.

"We are fully staffed and ready to take anything that comes in here to the best of our ability," she said, adding that hospital staffers had also been sent to help at a triage center.

Willie M. Horton, 78, said he hunkered down in the hallway of his house in Holmes County, Miss. "Everything is down. A lot of trees. Big trees," Horton said.

He said his sister-in-law's house nearby was damaged, and a nephew's mobile home was carried away by the storm.

"My cousin - half his barn is gone," Horton said.

The severe weather darkened skies and dumped rain on the region, much of which was under a tornado watch or warning at some point during the day.

The weather hampered crews trying to clean up an oil spill after an offshore rig exploded earlier this week off the coast of Louisiana. Several sporting events and festivals also were rescheduled.

In Mississippi, the tornado struck Valley Park, Yazoo City and Durant, said Mark McAllister, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Jackson.

The storms also damaged a church in east-central Mississippi and caused minor damage at Olive Branch Middle School in DeSoto County, just south of Memphis, Tenn.

In northeast Louisiana, several people had minor injuries. The storms also damaged a tank at a chemical plant in Tallulah, causing a small nitrogen leak.

On the Web:

The Weather Channel

NOAA Tornado Website

Mississippi Emergency Management Agency; The National Weather Service/NOAA; The Weather Channel; AP Reuters; writers Emily Wagster in Jackson, Janet McConnaughey in New Orleans and Jacob Jordan in Atlanta contributed to this report.

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