Thursday 27 April 2017

Five killed as storms batter south-eastern states

Residents examine the damage in Mount Olive, Mississippi (WDAM-TV/AP)
Residents examine the damage in Mount Olive, Mississippi (WDAM-TV/AP)

At least five people have been killed as severe storms moved across the south-eastern US, bringing heavy rain and strong winds.

The line of severe thunderstorms spawned several possible tornadoes as the threat moved into southern Alabama, south-west Georgia and the Florida Panhandle.

Four people were killed on Monday evening when a tree fell on their mobile home in Rehobeth, Alabama, said Kris Ware, a spokeswoman for Dothan Houston County Emergency Management Agency.

Alabama governor Robert Bentley said in a statement that the Houston County sheriff had told him about the deaths and he offered "prayers for those impacted".

In Florida, Walton County Sheriff's Office said in a statement that 70-year-old William Patrick Corley's body had been found on Monday afternoon after flooding near the Shoal River in Mossy Head.

Authorities said Mr Corley's car was partially submerged and his body was floating face-down nearby. The sheriff's office said the death is being investigated but no foul play is suspected.

State emergency officials reported no injuries or deaths in Louisiana and Mississippi, but a trip to Walmart was memorable for some shoppers in Marksville, Louisiana, as severe weather blew out skylights in the store, sending water and glass cascading on to shoppers.

Marksville Fire Chief Jerry Bordelon said a fireworks stand in the Walmart car park was thrown 30 or 40 yards and mangled. The storm also knocked over 18-wheel truck trailers and punched holes in the store's roof.

The fire department ordered shoppers to leave the store, but some did not want to leave even as managers closed it.

"Believe it or not, we had some people in there who were still trying to shop," Mr Bordelon said.

Storms in central Mississippi, near Mendenhall and Mount Olive, were preliminarily identified as tornadoes by the National Weather Service, based in part on radar signatures. Both storms damaged farm buildings and homes. Other possible tornadoes will be surveyed later.

In Louisiana, there was also relatively serious damage in the south-western parishes of Beauregard and Allen, including the town of Reeves.

Some wind damage was reported in Houston and throughout east Texas.

Although Arkansas was included in warnings, there was only a stray report of hail in Jackson County in the north east of the state.

Tens of thousands lost power in Louisiana and Mississippi at the height of the storm, according to utilities.

Freddie Zeigler, a meteorologist in the Weather Service's New Orleans office, said heavy winds were preceding the squall line, possibly contributing to power outages.

It was the second episode of heavy rain within days for some areas. An area stretching from Biloxi, Mississippi, through Alabama and across Macon and Augusta, Georgia, had more than 4in of rain on Monday, according to radar estimates.

Parts of southern Mississippi and south-west Alabama have had more than 8in of rain since Saturday.

AP

Press Association

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