A series of tornadoes that tore through eastern Alabama on Sunday have caused widespread destruction to homes and businesses, leaving 23 people dead.
The deaths were recorded in Lee County, Sheriff Jay Jones confirmed. He added that the damage had been “catastrophic” and it was possible that the body count may rise further.
The area of Beauregard, about 60 miles east of Alabama’s state capital, Montgomery, appears to have experienced the worst of the destruction, with many homes stripped of their roofs or completely levelled.
The Beauregard tornado was rated at EF-3 on the Fujita scale by the U.S National Weather Service, meaning it was capable of causing severe damage with winds of up to 165mph.
Reports said the twister was at least half a mile wide and stayed on the ground for more than a mile.
The death toll as it stands on Sunday would make this event the deadliest day for tornados in Alabama since the Tuscaloosa-Birmingham tornado in 2011, which killed more than 200 people.
Meteorologist Eric Snitil noted that there were more deaths in Lee County in one day due to a tornado than in the entirety of the U.S in 2018.
In light of the destruction, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey announced she would extend the state of emergency that had been issued last month due to tornadoes and severe weather.
Georgia Power said the extreme weather initially cut off electricity for 21,000 customer, as it tore down trees and power lines.
State officials added that rescue and aid efforts were currently underway but have been hampered by the extensive debris blocking roads.