United States: Mississippi devastated by tornadoes, at least 25 dead

The city of Amory, Mississippi after the tornadoes, March 25, 2023. AP - Thomas Wells

Text by: RFI Follow

3 min

A series of tornadoes and deadly thunderstorms hit Mississippi, which began assessing damage on Saturday. 25 people have died and the death toll continues to rise. The government has just sent reinforcements as weather alerts remain in effect in several states this weekend.


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The damage is impressive and spreads over more than 160 kilometers in western Mississippi. In all, a dozen tornadoes were recorded, accompanied by severe thunderstorms and large hail. In some counties, entire neighborhoods have been devastated, razed to the ground. Despite warnings from authorities, thousands of people have been trapped by these tornadoes.

The latest toll stands at 25 dead and dozens injured, according to the Mississippi State Emergency Service (MSEMA). Four missing people "have been found," they added. Search and rescue teams are working to find victims.

Trees uprooted, houses razed

In Rolling Fork, a town of some 2,000 people in western Mississippi, images Saturday morning showed entire rows of houses torn from their meager foundations, streets littered with debris and cars turned over on their roofs. Two semi-trailers were also crammed on top of each other. Trees were uprooted and metal pieces wrapped around trunks while for a house, still standing but wobbly, the floor collapsed.

According to ABC, at least 13 people died in Sharkey County, as well as three in neighboring Carroll County and two others in Monroe County. Separately, a police officer in Silver City, Humphreys County, reported to ABC the death of one person. In Alabama, the state neighboring Mississippi, thunderstorms were also particularly intense and one man died after his trailer overturned, the Morgan County Sheriff's Office said.

Authorities are expecting more severe thunderstorms and possible tornadoes this weekend. Weather alerts remain in place. Since the beginning of the year, more than 280 tornadoes have been recorded in the United States. One of the highest figures in recent years.

«Devastating damage»


It's a tragedy " said on Twitter the governor of the state, Tate Reeves, evoking "devastating damage", after the passage of these tornadoes that crossed the Mississippi for more than 150 km from west to east. "The scale of loss and damage is evident in all the areas affected today," he said after visiting Silver City, one of the hardest-hit cities. US President Joe Biden spoke in a statement of "heartbreaking" images, and stressed that the federal state would do "everything it can to help", "as long as it takes".

On CNN, Rolling Fork Mayor Eldridge Walker said, "My city no longer exists." According to the mayor, several victims were located and cleared of the debris of their homes, to be taken to hospitals and treated. "Houses that have been torn down can be replaced, but you cannot replace a life," Walker said. "The loss will be felt in these cities forever," Governor Tate Reeves tweeted, asking for prayers for the victims and their families.

These Mississippi tornadoes are pretty classic. The portion of Mississippi affected is part of what is known as "Tornado Alley." On the other hand, climate change has an influence on these events on several levels. Their violence first...

Alix Roumagnac, president of a company specializing in weather risk management


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