Severe storms hit southern US states on Friday, producing hail the size of golf balls and causing fatal injuries.


At least 26 people have died after a powerful tornado ripped through several southern US states, destroying buildings and knocking out power.

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency announced late Saturday afternoon that the number of deaths in the state had risen from 23 to 25.

Four who were missing have been found but dozens are injured.

One person was also reported dead in Alabama, making the total death toll at least 26.

Severe storms hit MississippiAlabama and Texas on Friday, producing hail the size of golf balls and prompting the authorities to warn residents they were in a "life-threatening situation".

The National Weather Service issued an alert to people in the path of the tornado and said: "To protect your life, TAKE COVER NOW!

"You are in a life-threatening situation. Flying debris may be deadly to those caught without shelter... Considerable damage to homes, businesses, and vehicles is likely and complete destruction is possible."

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency said in a Twitter post that search and rescue teams from local and state agencies were deployed to help victims impacted by the tornadoes.

The number of fatalities means the storms that ravaged parts of Mississippi overnight were the deadliest in the state in more than a decade.

The tornado caused destruction in the rural Mississippi towns of Silver City and Rolling Fork on Friday night before continuing to sweep northeast towards Alabama at 70mph.

Rolling Fork Mayor Eldridge Walker told CNN that his town was essentially wiped out.

Video shot as daylight broke showed houses reduced to piles of rubble, cars flipped on their sides and trees stripped of their branches. Occasionally, in the midst of the wreckage, a home would be spared, seemingly undamaged.

"My city is gone. But we are resilient and we are going to come back strong," Mr Walker said.



 


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