Deadly tornado devastates southern US
With incredible destructive power, a tornado has smashed through large parts of the southern US state of Mississippi. At least 25 people have been killed, with authorities expecting more extreme weather.
Death and destruction
Friday's tornado left behind widespread devastation in the southern US state of Mississippi. Authorities have confirmed at least 25 dead and dozens injured. More than 61,000 people in Mississippi and neighboring Alabama were still without power late Sunday evening. With the National Weather Service already warning of more "supercell thunderstorms," search and rescue operations continue.
Trail of destruction
The storm cut a path of devastation more than 160 kilometers (100 miles) long through several towns. With the force of winds up to 320 kilometers per hour (nearly 200 miles per hour), the tornado destroyed houses, uprooted trees and almost razed some places to the ground, eyewitnesses reported.
Families have lost their homes
The southern state of Mississippi is one of the poorest in the US, and the destruction has hit people and communities particularly hard. "We can see that one of the major issues we're going to face is housing," said Deanne Criswell, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Washington has made federal funds available for emergency shelter, home repairs and low-cost loans.
Recovery from the rubble
Jeremiah Staplton, 18, moves carefully through his grandfather's destroyed house in Rolling Fork, Mississippi, to get food from the refrigerator. The twister flung cars through the air and swept roofs off houses. Staplton's grandfather's house was crushed by a fallen tree.
'My city is gone'
The small town of Rolling Fork, in western Mississippi, was almost completely destroyed. "My city is gone," Mayor Eldridge Walker told CNN. "Devastation — as I look from left to right, that's all I see." The National Weather Service has classified the tornado as EF4, the second-highest level on the US scale, due to its longevity and strength.
Years of reconstruction ahead
These volunteers came out to distribute water bottles in Rolling Fork, where any and all help has been welcome. About 30% of the city's inhabitants live below the poverty line. Many people lived in converted trailers, but even houses made of stone would probably not have withstood the destructive force of the tornado. Reconstruction will take years.
Saving what was left behind
On Sunday, the McKnight family gathered up what could still be salvaged after the tornado destroyed and scattered their belongings in Rolling Fork. Although tornadoes are quite common in the south and central US states, the destructive power of the twister was unusually high. In Mississippi, extreme weather warnings have again been issued, but tornadoes are difficult to predict.