Four dead after tornado rocks southern Mississippi

Search and rescue operations are under way

Justin Carissimo
New York
@JstnMchl
Saturday 21 January 2017 17:22

Severe weather including at least one tornado touched down in Mississippi Saturday morning, killing at least three people and destroying several homes in the city of Hattiesburg.

In the aftermath of the storm, people were trapped in their homes and Mayor Johnny DuPree issued an emergency declaration and told reporters that a search and rescue mission is underway in the city of more than 48,000 citizens.

There are conflicting reports as to how many people have died in the storm. The city of Hattiesburg has tweeted that at least four people were killed while CNN and ABC News confirmed only three. According to the National Weather Service, three to five inches of rain have already fallen.

The city’s campus of the University of Southern Mississippi also reported excessive flash flooding and students were instructed to take cover at several locations.

Glen Moore, director of Forrest County Emergency Management, told ABC that his office received reports of people trapped in homes that were either destroyed or collapsed. "Search and rescue teams are being deployed to assist Forest County emergency management in the Hattiesburg area," his agency said in a statement.

Officials said that it’s too early to determine how many people were injured in the storm.