SELMA, Ala. (AP) — A massive storm system ripping through the southern United States on Thursday killed at least six people in central Alabama, where a tornado left homes roofless and downed trees in historic town of Selma, while another person lost their lives in Georgia, where strong winds knocked out power for tens of thousands of people.
At least six people are confirmed dead in Autauga County, Alabama, located 41 miles (66 kilometers) northeast of Selma, and authorities estimate that 40 to 50 homes were destroyed or damaged by the storms that passed through county, said Ernie Baggett, the county’s director of emergency management.
At least 12 people were injured seriously enough for emergency crews to take them to hospitals, Baggett told The Associated Press, adding that he did not know the severity of the injuries. He said crews were focusing their efforts Thursday on cutting downed trees and searching for people who may be injured.
“There are some homes that were completely destroyed and haven’t been inspected yet,” Autauga County Coroner Buster Barber said, adding that emergency crews “are still in the process of going through the rubble.”
In Jackson, Georgia, a passenger died after a tree fell on the vehicle he was traveling in during a storm, Butts County Coroner Lacey Prue said. In that same county, located southeast of Atlanta, the storm apparently caused a train derailment, authorities said.
The National Weather Service received 33 separate tornado reports across the country as of Thursday night, with some tornado watches remaining in effect for Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. However, the reports have yet to be confirmed and some of them could be considered wind damage once assessments conclude in the coming days.
In Selma, a city whose name is part of the history of the civil rights movement, a tornado tore through the downtown area, collapsing brick buildings, toppling oak trees, flipping over vehicles and dangling power lines.