At least 14 dead in Alabama, Georgia on ‘deadliest tornado day’ since 2017

LEE COUNTY, Ala. -- More than a dozen people have been confirmed dead after a series of tornadoes touched down in Alabama and Georgia on Sunday afternoon.

Fourteen people have died in Lee County, Alabama, according to Sheriff Jay Jones. Among the dead are both children and adults, he said.

Authorities warned that the death toll could rise further as search efforts continued in the small community of Beauregard and surrounding areas. Jones said the storm's path of destruction stretched for miles through his rural county, and in places was about a fourth of a mile wide. He didn't have an immediate account of how many were believed missing.

"We have a pretty significant area of damage," Jones told CNN's Ana Cabrera. He estimated a path of destruction about half a mile wide stretched several miles to the east from where the tornado touched down.

Several people in Lee County were taken to hospitals, "some of them with very serious injuries," Jones said.

Rita Smith, spokeswoman for the Lee County Emergency Management Agency, said about 150 first responders were assisting in the storm's aftermath.

Authorities were prioritizing search and rescue efforts on Sunday evening, Jones said, but were hampered by the dwindling light.

According to The Weather Channel, this is the deadliest tornado day in the country since Jan. 22, 2017, when 16 were killed in South Georgia.

It appeared Sunday evening that two tornadoes hit Lee County back-to-back within the span of one hour, CNN Meteorologist Gene Norman said.

Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones told WRBL a "number of fatalities" and multiple injuries had been reported due to a tornado near Beauregard.

Video footage shows trees destroyed by the powerful winds and debris from leveled homes piled up on the side of the road.

"We are trying to see if we can locate any injured people," Jones said. "We've accounted for a lot of people."

Multiple homes suffered significant damage, Jones said, and multiple agencies are working to assist in the search for injured people inside residences.

Several injured people were transported to a hospital, he said.

Norman said that according to the National Weather Service, an airport in Eufaula, Alabama, along the Alabama-Georgia border was destroyed, along with a fire station.

Selma, Alabama, where crowds had gathered to mark the anniversary of "Bloody Sunday," the 1965 civil rights march incident, suffered thunderstorms, Norman said, but no tornadoes.

The first tornado watches were issued around noon, but were expected to remain in place for parts of Georgia and South Carolina through 11 p.m. ET Sunday, Norman said.

The tornadoes are part of the same system that is expected to bring winter weather to much of the Eastern United States this week, Norman said.

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