US

At least seven dead as storm system batters southern US with tornado leaving trail of destruction in Alabama

At least six people have died in Alabama and one in Georgia as a powerful storm sweeps through the southern US, spurring a large tornado which damaged dozens of homes.

Six of the deaths were reported in the Old Kingston community of Autauga County, spanning several properties.

At least 12 people have been taken to hospital there, local officials said.

Ernie Baggett, the emergency management director in Autauga, told the Associated Press that between 40 and 50 homes had been damaged by the extreme weather, with the tornado dubbed “large and extremely dangerous”.

The death in Georgia was a passenger who was sitting in a vehicle when a tree fell on it in Jackson, said Butts County coroner Lacey Prue.

Local media reported that the victim was a five-year-old child, citing county officials.

A damaged structure and debris are seen in the aftermath of severe weather, Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023, in Selma, Ala. A large tornado damaged homes and uprooted trees in Alabama on Thursday as a powerful storm system pushed through the South. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
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Properties in Selma were damaged by the storm. Pic: AP

‘It blew out windows’

But it’s Alabama which has been the worst hit by the extreme weather so far.

Properties in the city of Selma were impacted – photos showed scenes of devastation in residential areas, as powerful winds shredded walls and toppled roofs.

Former state senator Hank Sanders said there was damage “all over” the city of about 18,000 residents.

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US tornado: ‘This was my mum’s house!’

“A tornado has definitely damaged Selma,” he added.

“In fact, it hit our house, but not head-on. It blew out windows in the bedroom and in the living room.

“It is raining through the roof in the kitchen.”

Cars have been blown over and trees uprooted by the high winds, and a city-wide curfew is in place.

No deaths have been reported in Selma so far.

“People have been injured, but no fatalities,” said mayor James Perkins.

“We have a lot of downed power lines. There is a lot of danger on the streets.”

Devastation is seen in the aftermath from severe weather, Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023, in Greensboro, Ala. A giant, swirling storm system billowing across the South spurred a tornado on Thursday that shredded the walls of homes, toppled roofs and uprooted trees. (Mike Goodall via AP)
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Pic: Mike Goodall via AP

‘Life-threatening situation’

Alabama’s tornado was one of 33 reported by the National Weather Service by Thursday evening, with warnings remaining in place for Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina into the night.

“This is a life-threatening situation. Take shelter immediately,” the weather service said of the Alabama tornado.

Tens of thousands of homes have been left without power, according to PowerOutage.us, which tracks outages, including more than 50,000 in Alabama and more than 100,000 in Georgia.

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