At least 11 dead as tornadoes hit Mississippi


WASHINGTON: Tornadoes ripped through the southern US state of Mississippi, killing at least 11 people, officials said yesterday as they gathered information on the extent of the damage caused by the storms.

The tornadoes caused ‘catastrophic’ damage on Sunday, according to US media, and prompted the National Weather Service to issue its highest level of tornado alert.

Governor Tate Reeves tweeted that he had declared a state of emergency ‘to protect the health and safety of Mississippians in response to the severe tornadoes and storms hitting across the state.’

“We are mobilising all resources available to protect our people and their property,” Reeves said, telling residents ‘you are not alone.’

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency said that so far 11 fatalities had been reported, but cautioned that the numbers could change throughout the day.

Earlier the agency had reported six deaths from the storms.

The Storm Prediction Centre said it expected ‘severe thunderstorms’ through the night in Mississippi, as well as in the neighboring states of Alabama and Georgia.

“Strong tornadoes, widespread damaging winds, and large hail are all possible,” the centre added.

On Sunday, Reeves urged residents to take the ‘severe storms very seriously.’

“Please take precautions to keep your family safe.”

He later retweeted a message from the state disaster agency reminding people to cover their noses and mouths and practice social distancing to prevent the spread of coronavirus if they had to go to public storm shelters. — AFP