Tornado rips through southern Mississippi

Four people were killed, roofs were ripped from homes and churches, and trees were torn from the earth early Saturday when a tornado hitting in the dark of night ripped through the Hattiesburg area, officials said.

The four deaths were confirmed by the Forrest County coroners office, WDAM-TV reports. The twister was part of a wall of stormy weather traveling across the region, bringing with it rain and unstable conditions.

"The affected families get meals, and then we will be on-call to see where to go from there", Hedgren said.

Gulfport Fire Department Battalion Chief Chris Henderson says the task force will do a grid search from the police headquarters to nearby William Carey University in one of the most heavily damaged areas. "They said he was laying in the bed".

The town's mayor, Johnny DuPhree, issued an emergency declaration for the city, which has reported "significant injuries" and structural damage.

Molley said he and McCarty were in a trailer when the storm hit.

"I had a little hole I could squeeze out of", he said. Early estimates show more than 300 homes and 30 businesses were damaged in Petal alone.

Benedict stated, according to USA Today, that the two victims of the tornado who had lived in a trailer park were 58-year-old Ernest Perkins and 47-year-old David Wayne McCoy.

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The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency said it had received reports of "extensive damage" in three counties - Forrest, Lamar and Perry - in the area of Hattiesburg, Miss.

A college in a southern MS town where a tornado struck says it's closing and students are being evacuated.

The university tweeted that the Hattiesburg campus is closed until further notice: "Students are being escorted from campus".

Students at William Carey were reporting minor injuries, the university said.

The storms also damaged buildings in the cities of Hattiesburg and Petal, including parts of a private college and a fire station, officials said. At dusk Saturday, more than 6,000 people were without power in Forrest and Lamar counties.

The tornado was accompanied by 3.42 inches of rain, according to the NWS.

"We just purchased this business on July 29 and totally remodeled it", Holland said.

  • Sidney Guerrero