At least 23 dead in Alabama tornadoes

More than 50 people have been reported injured and the death toll is expected to rise after two back-to-back tornadoes touched down in Alabama on Sunday.
More than 50 people have been reported injured and the death toll is expected to rise after two back-to-back tornadoes touched down in Alabama on Sunday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

ALABAMA • Rescuers yesterday sifted through rubble looking for more dead and wounded after two back-to-back tornadoes touched down in Alabama, killing at least 23 people, the US authorities said.

The storms inflicted their worst damage on Lee County, Alabama, on Sunday, destroying numerous homes and businesses.

More than 50 people were reported injured and the death toll is expected to rise as rescuers search through the debris in Beauregard, about 95km east of the state capital Montgomery.

Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones said that rescue and recovery operations overnight were difficult.

"The challenge is the sheer volume of the debris where all the homes were located," Mr Jones said in an interview with CNN on Sunday. "It's the most I've seen that I can recall."

On Twitter, President Donald Trump urged residents of Alabama and other areas affected by the storms to be "careful and safe".

"Tornadoes and storms were truly violent and more could be coming," Mr Trump wrote.

"To the families and friends of the victims, and to the injured, God bless you all!"

The swathe of destruction left was 0.4km wide and stretched for the "several miles that it travelled on the ground", said Mr Jones.

Still and video images showed trees that had been snapped in two, debris-strewn roads and wrecked houses in the wake of the storm.

More than 6,000 homes were left without power in Alabama, according to PowerOutage.US, while 16,000 suffered outages in neighbouring Georgia.

Television images showed the heavy rain had relented by dusk but many roads in the worst-hit areas were left littered with debris and impassable.

Meanwhile, New York faced its biggest snowstorm of the winter yesterday as snow spread across north-eastern US, infuriating commuters who juggled cancelled planes and trains and faced icy travels ahead as temperatures plunge.

The state shut the nation's biggest public school system as well as the largest state-wide public transportation system in the country.

According to FlightAware.com, close to 1,000 flights were cancelled, mostly at Boston Logan International and New York area airports.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 05, 2019, with the headline 'At least 23 dead in Alabama tornadoes'. Print Edition | Subscribe