Tornado Strikes Mississippi, Causing Damage

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A tornado has touched down in Mississippi, the authorities said on Friday night, as emergency workers began to survey the damage, and thunderstorms moved east through the state toward Alabama.

The tornado caused damage in Silver City and Rolling Fork, Miss., the National Weather Service office in Jackson said on Twitter. The agency issued a rare tornado emergency for parts of the state Friday night, indicating a life-threatening situation, along with several tornado warnings.

More than five million people in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee were under a tornado watch as of 11 p.m. local time. About 50,000 electricity customers in Mississippi and Tennessee had already lost power, according to the tracking site

So far there were no official damage assessments or reports of injuries, Malary White, the chief communications officer for the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, said on Friday night.

Ms. White said state search-and-rescue resources were being sent to Sharkey County, Miss.; that her agency was assessing the needs of people displaced or affected by the tornado; and that her agency would begin damage assessments in the daylight. She added that the Federal Emergency Management Agency had been alerted.

“Many in the MS Delta need your prayer and God’s protection tonight,” Governor Tate Reeves of Mississippi said in a statement on Twitter, adding that search and rescue teams and medical support were working in the area. “Watch weather reports and stay cautious through the night, Mississippi!”

In Rolling Fork, one of the towns hit by the tornado, Mayor Eldridge Walker told a local television station that he could not leave his house because of downed power lines. He said the garage and west side had been seriously damaged by the tornado.

“We have a situation here,” Mr. Walker told the station, WLBT-TV. He said that some people in the community had been injured, though he did not give a specific number, and asked that people continue to shelter in place while emergency responders arrived.

Jerry Briggs, an emergency coordinator in nearby Warren County, confirmed in a phone interview that a tornado had hit Rolling Fork, but said he had no information about damage or casualties.

Officials in Mississippi on Friday had urged residents to find a safe place in the event of tornadoes, while officials in Tennessee reminded residents that spring weather could be unpredictable.

Severe weather season in the South reaches its peak during March, April and May, meteorologists said.

Earlier this month, powerful storms swept across the South, leaving at least 12 people dead and hundreds of thousands of customers without electricity. Heavy rains, severe winds and tornadoes damaged homes in at least eight states.

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