At least 25 people were killed on Friday night as a strong tornado ripped through rural areas of western Mississippi, authorities said.
The twister tore roofs off homes and left thousands of people without power, CNN reported.
Update 5:05 p.m. EDT March 25: The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency revised the death toll from the deadly tornado that struck four counties in the western part of the state to 25, WJTV and WLBT-TV reported.
Dozens of people have been injured, officials said. The agency said that four people who were reported missing overnight have been accounted for, WJTV reported.
The fatalities were reported in Sharkey, Humphreys, Carroll, and Monroe counties, according to WLBT.
Update 3:05 p.m. EDT March 25: The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency tweeted Saturday that the casualty toll could climb higher than the 23 dead and four missing it had already confirmed.
“Unfortunately, these numbers are expected to change,” the agency tweeted.
“There’s nothing left,” Wonder Bolden, of Rolling Fork, told The Associated Press. Bolden was holding her granddaughter while standing outside the remnants of her mother’s leveled mobile home. “There’s just the breeze that’s running, going through -- just nothing.”
President Joe Biden called the images from the tornado “heartbreaking.”
“Jill and I are praying for those who have lost loved ones in the devastating tornadoes in Mississippi and for those whose loved ones are missing,” Biden said in a statement.”The images from across Mississippi are heartbreaking. While we are still assessing the full extent of the damage, we know that many of our fellow Americans are not only grieving for family and friends, they’ve lost their homes and businesses.”
Update 1:05 p.m. EDT March 25: Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves issued a state of emergency on Saturday in the counties affected by the storms and tornadoes in western Mississippi, WLBT-TV reported.
The area includes Sharkey, Humphreys, Carroll, and Monroe counties, according to the television station.
“I’m devastated by the destruction and loss of life that these storms have caused,” Reeves said in a statement. “The state of Mississippi will continue doing everything we can to marshal every resource available to support our fellow Mississippians who are in need. The state will be there to help them rebuild. We’re not going anywhere and we’re in it for the long haul. Please join me in praying for the family and friends of those who lost loved ones in this trying time.”
Original report: The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency said dozens of people were injured and at least four people were also missing, The New York Times reported.
“We have numerous local and state search and rescue teams that continue to work this morning the agency said in an update posted to Twitter. “Unfortunately, these numbers are expected to change,” the agency added.
According to the National Weather Service, a tornado caused damage about 60 miles northeast of Jackson, The Associated Press reported. The towns of Rolling Fork and Silver City reported major damage as the tornado swept through the area and moved quickly to the northeast, according to the news organization.
Sharkey County Coroner Angelia Easton originally told ABC News that 13 people died in Rolling Fork and its surrounding areas as a result of the tornado. The news organization later updated its figure to 19 killed; CNN reported that 21 died due to the storm.
Rolling Fork Mayor Eldridge Walker told WJTV that many homes, including his residence, were damaged by the weather.
“What we found was devastation all around us,” Walker told the television station.
Former Rolling Fork Mayor Fred Miller said that the storm had blown out windows and damaged homes and trees, according to The New York Times.
“A great deal of the town has been destroyed,” Miller told Fox Weather. “People are trapped in a couple of the eateries, and people are trying to get them out now.”
According to the Sharkey County Sheriff’s Office, deputies have received reports of gas leaks and people trapped in piles of rubble, the Vicksburg News reported.
In Silver City, one man died and two children were hospitalized in critical condition after they were trapped in their home, WJTV reported.
Rolling Fork is known as the birthplace of blues singer/guitarist Muddy Waters, the Times reported.
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves asked for prayers in a tweet.
“Many in the MS Delta need your prayer and God’s protection tonight. We have activated medical support -- surging more ambulances and other emergency assets for those affected,” Reeves tweeted. “Search and rescue is active. Watch weather reports and stay cautious through the night, Mississippi!”
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Rolling Fork resident Brandy Showah told CNN. “This was a very great small town, and now it’s gone.”