Adel (US), Jan 23: A severe storm system that spun off apparent tornadoes and left scattered destruction around the Southeast, US, has claimed at least 18 lives on a two-day sweep across the region, authorities said.
The enormous system put millions of people in the South on edge during a weekend of violent weather that left crumpled trailer homes, downed trees and other damage in the hardest-hit communities from Mississippi to Georgia. The severe weather threat continued on Sunday night in some parts, extending into the Carolinas and north Florida.
At least 14 people were killed on Sunday in Georgia as the fast-moving storms tore across the state throughout the day, with at least one deadly tornado reported before dawn and violent storms still rumbling after nightfall.
Four people were killed on Saturday in Mississippi when the system began its deadly assault. "There are houses just demolished," said Norma Ford, who rushed out with other relatives on Sunday evening after hearing a reported twister had overturned her nephew's mobile home in the southwestern Georgia city of Albany, the region's largest city with some 76,000 residents.
She said downed trees and powerlines made roads impassable, forcing them to walk the two miles to the mobile home park to check on her relatives. She said her nephew was fine, but several of his neighbors' homes were destroyed.
Georgia's latest three deaths were confirmed on Sunday evening in Dougherty County where Albany is located, said Catherine Howden, spokeswoman for the Georgia Emergency Management Agency.
Sebon Burns, the county's deputy chief for emergency management, said search and rescue efforts were continuing on Sunday night following reports of injuries and extensive damage.
Yet the day's deadliest toll came before daybreak on Sunday when an apparent tornado blew through a mobile home park in south Georgia about 60 miles southeast of Albany shearing away siding, upending homes and killing seven people.
Coroner Tim Purvis of south Georgia's Cook County confirmed that seven people died at the mobile home park, where about roughly half of the 40 homes were "leveled."