Tornadoes hit Southeast
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YAZOO CITY, Miss. -- Tornadoes ripped through the Southeast on Saturday, killing 10 people in Mississippi and injuring more than a dozen others. Roofs were torn off businesses, homes were splintered, vehicles were overturned and roads were blocked by toppled trees.
Mississippi Emergency Management Agency spokesman Greg Flynn said five people were killed in Choctaw County, including two children. Four victims were in Yazoo County and one was in Holmes County.
Gov. Haley Barbour told The Associated Press there was "utter obliteration" in parts of Yazoo County, an area known for cotton, catfish, blues music and picturesque hills rising abruptly from the flat Mississippi Delta.
More than 15 other counties were also damaged. The swath of debris forced rescuers to pick up some of the injured on all-terrain vehicles the west-central part of the state.
Tornadoes were also reported in Louisiana, Arkansas and Alabama, and the severe weather continued to track eastward.
In Yazoo City about 40 miles north of Jackson, Malcolm Gordon, 63, stood with members of his family peering through a broken window. Above them, the roof was gone, a tree lay across part of the house and power lines stretched across the yard in a neighborhood made up of modest houses and mobile homes on a street that winds around hills and ravines. The smell of shredded pine trees hung the warm breeze.
Mr. Gordon looked around at the devastation. "It sounded like a train coming down that road," he said.
Mr. Gordon and his wife, Diane, hid in a closet while much of the neighborhood was blown away.
"I'll just bulldoze what's left and start over," he said.
Elsewhere, stunned residents stood on a hill overlooking the destruction. A National Guard helicopter sat nearby, and later took the governor on an aerial tour of the town he grew up in.
"Sad, man," said 22-year-old Rafael Scott, shaking his head. "It's really hard to believe it. I heard they found a couple of bodies."
Three broken crosses stood near a flattened church, and religious materials were scattered among twisted steel, broken wood and furniture. A nearby funeral home was reduced to rubble. In a patch of woods, pieces of tin were twisted high up in the broken trees.
The tornado slammed Yazoo County, then headed northeast to adjacent Holmes County before striking Choctaw County.
Thousands across the state were without electricity, and downed power lines and trees blocked roads.
Houston Astros pitcher Roy Oswalt, who pitched on Friday, was returning to Mississippi after a tornado damaged his parents' home in Weir, farther west of Yazoo County.
The severe weather darkened skies and dumped rain on the region, much of which was under a tornado watch or warning at some point during the day.
The weather also hampered crews trying to clean up an oil spill after an offshore rig exploded earlier this week off the coast of Louisiana.
The Coast Guard discovered Saturday that oil is leaking from the damaged well underneath a massive rig,threatening the area's fragile marine ecosystem.
For days, the Coast Guard has said no oil appeared to be escaping from the well head on the ocean floor. Rear Adm. Mary Landry said the leak was a new discovery but could have begun when the rig sank on Thursday, two days after the initial explosion.
Coast Guard and company officials estimate that as much as 1,000 barrels of oil is leaking each day after studying information from remotely operated vehicles and the size of the oil slick surrounding the blast site. The rainbow-colored sheen of oil stretched 20 miles by 20 miles on Saturday -- about 25 times larger than it appeared to be a day earlier, Adm. Landry said.
Eleven workers are still missing from the Deepwater Horizon rig that sank Thursday about 50 miles from Louisiana's coast. They are presumed dead, and the search for them was called off Friday.
First Published April 25, 2010 12:00 am