Eight killed after tornadoes rip through US south-east

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Rescue teams were searching for missing people in central Alabama on Friday after thunderstorms and tornadoes claimed eight lives, damaged dozens of homes and knocked down trees.

Seven of the eight deaths were from the south-eastern US state’s Autauga county. Buster Barber, the county’s coroner, said the number of casualties would rise.

The tornado caused widespread damage, ripping off rooftops and hurling other debris.

“We are finding more bodies as we speak,” he said in a phone interview. “We’ve got search teams out in the area.”

In Georgia, a tree fell on a car, killing a five-year-old child and leaving an adult passenger in critical condition as they were driving home.

According to the US weather service, five tor-nadoes touched down in the central Alabama region. The longest twister was tracked from south-west of Selma, Alabama, to the Georgia-Alabama state line. The weather service said it had dispatched multiple damage survey teams to the field. The agency warned that gusty winds and cold wind chill temperatures would persist through Saturday morning.

As many as 50 properties were damaged by the storms in Autauga county, according to the local sheriff’s office. Some churches and establishments opened their doors to provide food and hot showers for residents.

Alabama governor Kay Ivey declared a state of emergency for six counties hit hard by the storm.

Nearly 20,000 customers were without power in Alabama on Friday, according to PowerOutage.us. The storm also led to power outages in neighbouring states of Mississippi and Georgia.—AFP