‘Everything wiped away’: Tornado kills at least 23 in Mississippi



At least 23 people were killed as a devastating tor-nado ripped across the southern US state of Missis-sippi, tearing off roofs, smashing cars and flattening entire neighbourhoods.

The powerful storm system, accompanied by thunderstorms and driving rain, cut a path of more than 100 miles (60 kilometres) across Mississippi late Saturday, slamming several towns along the way.

The state’s emergency management agency said Saturday that at least four people were missing and dozens more were injured, while tens of thousands of people in Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee were without power.

In Rolling Fork, home to fewer than 2,000 peo-ple, an entire row of houses and buildings was de-molished, leaving only scattered debris. Cars were overturned, fences were ripped up and trees up-rooted, television footage showed.

Patricia Perkins, who works at a hardware store in the town, told AFP that “most everything is wiped away.”

Resident Shanta Howard described to local TV how residents had to help remove the dead from the wreckage.

“It’s way worse than I thought. All of the busi-nesses on Highway 61 are gone,” Ricky Cox, whose seed supply store was wrecked, told AFP, saying two friends died when their homes were hit.

Search and rescue operations were underway in Sharkey county, home to Rolling Fork — located about 70 miles northwest of the state capital Jackson — and neighbouring counties.

Officials cautioned that the death toll could rise from 23. “The loss will be felt in these towns for-ever,” state Governor Tate Reeves said on Twitter. “Please pray for God’s hand to be over all who lost family and friends.”

President Joe Biden called the images from Mississippi “heartbreaking” and vowed to put federal resources at the state’s disposal.

“We will do everything we can to help. We will be there as long as it takes,” he said in a statement.—AFP