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January 23, 2017
18 dead, dozens hurt after storms hit Southeast
ADEL, Ga. — A severe storm packing high winds and heavy rain has battered Georgia and other states in the U.S. south-east, leaving a total of 18 dead across the weekend, authorities said Sunday.
Fourteen people are confirmed dead in Georgia across four counties due to the severe weather, according to a statement from the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency, adding to four fatalities on Saturday in Mississippi.
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal has also declared a State of Emergency for seven counties in the state, GEMA said.
The counties affected are Atkinson, Berrien, Brooks, Colquitt, Cook, Lowndes and Thomas.
"State and local resources continue to focus on recovery and lifesaving efforts," the statement said, adding that authorities' first priority was "public safety."
Catherine Howden, a spokeswoman for GEMA, earlier told dpa that a tornado was responsible for some of the deaths.
In one incident in east Albany in Georgia, four people died after a suspected tornado wrecked a mobile home park, bringing down trees and powerlines.
Local official Darrel Ealum, who lives in the impacted area, described the scene as a "war zone," to local newspaper Albany Herald.
The weather service issued its first tornado warning at 4 am (0900 GMT), but many people failed to hear the alert as it came in the middle of the night.
As many as 20 tornadoes were believed to have ripped through the affected area.
Speaking at the White House, U.S. President Donald Trump said the region had been hit hard by "vicious" storms. He expressed "sincere condolences for the lives taken" and said he had been in touch with the governors of the affected states.
The U.S. National Weather service said the storm could cause a further outbreak of tornadoes.
On Saturday, severe weather also affected southern Mississippi. Four people were killed in Forrest County, while 428 homes were damaged, local authorities said. Over 50 people were also injured.
City officials released photos of the destruction on Twitter, and firefighters were going house-to-house Sunday looking for survivors in the city of about 48,000 people.