More Than 20 Killed After A Series Of Deadly Tornadoes Hits Alabama

Tuesday, 05 Mar, 2019

At least 23 people, some of them children, died after a tornado swept through Lee County, Alabama on Sunday, and the death toll was expected to rise as rescuers searched through the rubble of destroyed homes, authorities said.

Almost 2,000 Alabama Power customers in Lee County were without electricity early Monday.

Debris from the home was scattered in surrounding trees.

Jones said the damage looks "as if someone took a giant knife and just scraped the ground".

"I can not recall, at least in the last 50 years, and longer than that, a situation where we have had this type, this loss of life that we experienced today", Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones told CBS News Sunday night.

Debris and a damaged house seen following a tornado in Beauregard, Alabama, U.S.in this March 3, 2019 still image obtained from social media video on March 4, 2019.

The first tornado warning for Lee County was issued at 2:58 p.m. ET, and the first reports of damage came just five minutes later, CNN Meteorologist Gene Norman said, according to National Weather Service data. Although the special weather statement issued Sunday evening did not give exact wind estimates, EF-3 storms on the Enhanced Fujita Scale are typically defined with wind speeds between 225-265 km/h. "We've never had a mass fatality situation, that I can remember, like this in my lifetime", Harris said.

On top of the death toll, it was reported the storm left 10,000 homes without power.

He says it's possible the death toll could continue to rise, but authorities are pausing search efforts overnight because conditions are too risky in the dark due to massive amounts of debris.

Jones said most of the victims have been identified, but officials are waiting until relatives are notified before releasing their names.

And more people are missing as crews search through wreckage and debris.

A number of injured survivors have been taken to hospitals.

"The contents of one residence we know for a fact were located over 1,000 yards away", Jones said.

"It just didn't seem real seeing the house where I grew up had gone", Kingston told Faithwire. "That's the other half". He said a tornado hit in West Smiths Station, Ala.

Julie Morrison and her daughter-in-law picked through the ruins of Morrison's home in Beauregard, looking for keys and a wallet.

"Please be careful and safe", President Donald Trump implored Alabama residents.

"We've still got people being pulled out of rubble", Lee County Coroner Bill Harris told Al.com on Sunday evening.

More than 10,000 people are without power, according to the local press.

The area was dark and electricity appeared to be knocked out in many places late Sunday.

"Tornadoes ravaged parts of our great state, leaving behind trails of devastation and loss of human life", she said.

On Monday, all that remained of her home was its concrete foundation, piled under heaps of wood and broken furniture, with the tattered remainders of a trailer wrapped around a tree.

Trump says Monday the country is "sending our love and prayers to the incredible people of Alabama". "It's a blessing from God that me and my young'ns are alive".