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.”
Unfortunately, these numbers are expected to change. https://t.co/XTGNJUxw3W— msema (@MSEMA) March 25, 2023
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.”
I also spoke to @FEMA_Deanne, who has already deployed emergency response personnel and resources to support search-and-rescue and assess the damage.— President Biden (@POTUS) March 25, 2023
We will do everything we can to help. We will work together to deliver the support you need to recover, for as long as it takes.
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.”
I have declared a State of Emergency in the Mississippi counties impacted by last night’s severe storms including tornadoes.— Governor Tate Reeves (@tatereeves) March 25, 2023
We will marshal every available resource on behalf of our neighbors in need. We’re here for the long haul. pic.twitter.com/yPENOSfZwr
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.
Morning Update as of 6:20am:— msema (@MSEMA) March 25, 2023
We can confirm 23 dead, dozens injured, 4 missing due to last night's tornadoes. We have numerous local and state search and rescue teams that continue to work this morning. A number of assets are on the ground to assist those that have been impacted
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.
8:50 pm - A confirmed tornado caused damage in Silver City and Rolling Fork now moving into the northwest side of Tchula and along Highway 49. #mswx https://t.co/udcfoNVT7R— NWS Jackson MS (@NWSJacksonMS) March 25, 2023
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.”
The damage in Rolling Fork, Mississippi is BAD. People are trapped, we need help here. pic.twitter.com/rPJ4KDjwvE— Zachary Hall (@WxZachary) March 25, 2023
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.
Early reports showed more than 23,000 residents without power, according to the Clarion-Ledger. That total includes nearly all tracked customers in Sharkey, Humphreys and Montgomery counties.
Violent tornado with horizontal vortex right before entering Rolling Fork, MS. Came across town and pulled multiple people from ruble. Unburied one woman and flagged down medic. Myself, Max and Jordan worked to free older woman buried under house and carried little girl to safety pic.twitter.com/uJu5BrMFFd— Aaron Rigsby (@AaronRigsbyOSC) March 25, 2023
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!”
Many in the MS Delta need your prayer and God’s protection tonight.— Governor Tate Reeves (@tatereeves) March 25, 2023
We have activated medical support—surging more ambulances and other emergency assets for those affected. 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.”