Seven people die in Alabama and Georgia after tornadoes and severe storms

At least seven people were killed on Thursday when several tornadoes ripped through the central United States, emergency services said.

Six of the fatalities lived in Autaga, Alabama, the deputy director of emergency services for the state of Alabama, Gary Weaver, told the France-Presse news agency.

Another person died in the neighboring state of Georgia, where strong winds toppled power poles, leaving tens of thousands without power.

More than 100,000 people were without power in the states of Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee, according to the Alabama Emergency Management Agency.

Ernie Baggett, director of the Autaga County Emergency Agency, said there were about 40 homes damaged or destroyed, due to the passage of tornadoes with winds that exceeded 100 kilometers per hour.

At least 12 people were seriously injured and had to be hospitalized, Baggett told the Associated Press.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey declared a state of emergency in Autaga and five other counties.

Ivey confirmed on the social network Twitter, late Thursday afternoon, that “parts of the state have been shaken by this dangerous meteorological phenomenon”.

The city of Selma, in Dallas County, also covered by the state of emergency, suffered “significant damage”, according to the mayor’s office, who urged residents to avoid leaving their homes or going near downed power lines. 

“Teams from the city will be sent as soon as possible to clean up”, added the municipality, on the social network Facebook.

The tornadoes then moved into neighboring Georgia, where the National Weather Service maintained tornado warnings in effect through early Thursday night.

Across the country, there were reports of at least 33 tornadoes on Thursday.

In Georgia, a passenger died when a tree fell on a vehicle in Jackson during the storm, Butts County Medical Examiner Lacey Prue said.

In the same county, southeast of Atlanta, the storm also caused the derailment of a freight train, officials said.

Tornadoes, a meteorological phenomenon that are difficult to predict, are relatively common in the United States, especially in the center and south of the country.

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