Tornado in Mississippi leaves 24 dead and widespread destruction.

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Friday night’s tornado has claimed 24 lives and many others may still be trapped under destroyed buildings. The storm caused widespread damage to rural towns, uprooting trees and power lines. Other southern states are also preparing for strong storms.

The storm that swept through Mississippi generated a tornado that devastated communities throughout the state. The largest tornado destroyed numerous structures in multiple small towns, overturning cars and bringing down power lines.

Rolling Fork, a small town in western Mississippi, has been largely destroyed by the tornado, leaving many families affected and hurting, according to its mayor, Eldridge Walker. Residents reported blown-out windows in the backs of their homes. Despite the devastation, the mayor expressed resilience and determination to rebuild.

Brandy Showah, a local resident, expressed that she had never witnessed such destruction and that the small town had been great before being wiped out. Another resident, Cornel Knight, told the Associated Press that Rolling Fork was eerily quiet just before the tornado hit and that they could see the direction from every transformer that blew due to the dark sky.

He said the tornado struck another relative’s house, where a wall collapsed and trapped several people inside.

Mississippi state governor Tate Reeves is on his way to Sharkey County to meet with affected residents first hit by the tornado’s fury.

Sharing an update on Twitter, Mr Reeves described the situation as a “tragedy”, writing: “We are blessed with brave, capable responders and loving neighbours. Please continue to pray.”

US President Joe Biden described the images coming out of Mississippi as “heartbreaking”, adding that the federal government “will do everything we can to help”.

“We will be there as long as it takes. We will work together to deliver the support you need to recover,” he said in a statement.

It is not yet clear whether one or several tornadoes hit the area on Friday night. Although yesterday the National Weather Service warned that several tornadoes were forecast, it is possible the devastation was caused by a “skipping tornado” – a single twister that lifts from the surface only to touch down again.

Sam Emmerson from the School of Meteorology at the University of Oklahoma said that the “extremely high-calibre” tornado lofted debris above 30,000ft (9144m).

One local weather forecaster, concerned at the strength of a tornado about to hit the town of Amery, momentarily paused his TV forecast to offer a prayer for the residents of the town.

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