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23 Dead: 'This Is a Day of Destruction for Lee County'

Powerful tornado hit eastern Alabama Sunday
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 4, 2019 1:35 AM CST
Updated Mar 4, 2019 3:03 AM CST
Emergency personnel work the staging area at Sanford Middle School in Beauregard, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2019, after tornados ravaged the area, causing multiple fatalities.   (AP Photo/Julie Bennett)
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(Newser) – At least 23 people—ranging in age from children to people in their 80s—were killed when a powerful tornado left a path of destruction in eastern Alabama on Sunday. Authorities say the tornado, one of several reported as a severe weather system hit the area, traveled straight down a country road in the rural Lee County community of Beauregard, destroying homes along a path several miles long and around half a mile wide, the AP reports. "This is a day of destruction for Lee County," says County Coroner Bill Harris, per NBC. "We've never had a mass fatality situation, that I can remember, like this in my lifetime." Tornadoes were also confirmed in Florida and Georgia.

Scores of people were hospitalized in Lee County, which is on the Georgia border, and authorities say they expect the death toll to rise when an intensive ground search, halted due to dangerous conditions late Sunday, resumes Monday morning. "To the great people of Alabama and surrounding areas: Please be careful and safe," tweeted President Trump. "Tornadoes and storms were truly violent and more could be coming. To the families and friends of the victims, and to the injured, God bless you all!" No deaths were reported in five other storm-damaged Alabama counties. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey says she is extending a state of emergency declared on Feb. 23 to deal with flooding, AL.com reports. (Read more tornadoes stories.)

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