Four dead as tornadoes slam parts of Mississippi

Tornado damage in Columbia, MS PHOTO: Teresa Mergens (‏@MS_TeresaM)/Twitter

Columbia, MISS. (CNN) – A tornado system touched down in portions of Mississippi on Tuesday afternoon, killing at least four people and leaving injuries, damage and power outages, said local authorities.

Two people died in Jones County and two more in Marion County, said state Emergency Management Agency spokesman Brett Carr.

“Two people died inside their mobile home that was completely destroyed,” said Jones County Sheriff Alex Hodge. “This was in the rural part of Jones County. There were other brick and mortar homes that had major damage but we have no other injuries reported.”

The mobile home was not part of a mobile home park but on a property by itself, clarified Hodge.

In the town of Sumrall, west of Hattiesburg, a tornado hit a day care off Highway 42.

“Got it pretty good,” said police spokesman Officer Nick Verner.

Verner said all the children have been accounted for and there were no injuries. They were moved to a nearby bank.

In Columbia, 27 miles southwest of Sumrall, the tornado damage appeared to be centered off Highway 98 near a Walmart, according to Marion County Emergency Management spokeswoman Megan Smith.

Smith confirmed reports of injuries and damaged or destroyed cars and structures. Power outages were reported. No deaths have been reported.

Also in Marion County, a sheriff’s department operator reported people trapped and injured as a result of a tornado touchdown. Authorities couldn’t provide an exact number of people affected.

Carr said multiple roads were closed due to damage including, Highway 13.

In Jones County, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency reported damaged homes and power outages.

Hodge said there was major damage to a church, trees down and power lines down.

“Right now, the system is pretty much forming a diagonal line across the southeast corner of the state,” said spokesman Greg Flynn. “There is a report that we have another one — a tornado in Jones County near the City of Laurel. It was a dangerous system coming through.”

The same storm system destroyed about 15 homes outside Amite, Louisiana, 47 miles northeast of Baton Rouge, according to Tangipahoa Parish Emergency Management spokeswoman Vicki Travis.

Photos obtained by CNN showed structures completely flattened.

No injuries were reported in Tangipahoa, but 1,750 households did not have power.

Flynn said the agency worked to prepare residents for the storm but the bad weather “could not have come at a worst time of year.”

“People are out scrambling to get their last-minute Christmas shopping done. We have a lot of people moving around and traveling for the holidays. A lot of visitors that may not know where to go and what to do when the bad weather came through,” said Flynn.

The National Weather Service extended its tornado watch to include Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida.

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