4 dead after tornado rips through Mississippi

2017-01-21 23:41
A dog stands in a pile of debris after a tornado struck Hattiesburg in the American state of Mississippi. (Susan Broadbridge, AP)

A dog stands in a pile of debris after a tornado struck Hattiesburg in the American state of Mississippi. (Susan Broadbridge, AP)

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Hattiesburg - Four people were killed, roofs were ripped from homes and churches and trees were torn from the earth on Saturday when a tornado hitting in the dark of night ripped through a region in southern Mississippi, officials said.

Four people died after the twister blew through the city and surrounding area, said Forrest County Coroner Butch Benedict. The twister was part of a wall of stormy weather travelling across the region, bringing with it rain and unstable conditions.

Authorities have not yet released the names of the four people who died. But at least one family had already gotten the horrific news. Monica McCarty said her father died in the same trailer park where she and her boyfriend live and her son was apparently crushed to death while in bed at her mother's house where he lived.

Standing amid the carnage the tornado had wrought, McCarty wept as her boyfriend, Tackeem Molley, comforted her.

"They couldn't get him out of the house. They said he had been in bed," McCarty said of her son.

Molley said he and McCarty were in a trailer when the storm hit. Molley, whose bare foot was bandaged, said he climbed out through a hole in what had either been the trailer's roof or wall.

"I had a little hole I could squeeze out of," he said.

In the surrounding neighborhood, power company trucks were running up and down the streets. A city backhoe was plowing debris from the road. Dozens of homes were damaged.

Sheet metal was strewn everywhere. Trees turned into spindly sticks were lying across power lines, and the roar of chain saws could be heard in the background. At least three nearby churches had sustained some type of damage.

Mayor Johnny DuPree has signed an emergency declaration for the city, which reported "significant injuries" and structural damage.

The search for the dead and injured continued as the sun rose. More than 40 firefighters from across Mississippi had gathered outside Hattiesburg police headquarters to search. Equipped with dogs and all-terrain vehicles, they were planning on doing a grid search from police headquarters to nearby William Carey University in one of the most heavily damaged areas.



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