Death toll from Alabama tornado rises to 23
LEE COUNTY, Ala. (AP) — A sheriff says the death toll is now at 23 from a large tornado that devastated an Alabama community.
Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones told WRBL-TV that “Unfortunately our toll, as far as fatalities, does stand at 23 at the current time,” adding that two people are in intensive care.
Jones told The Associated Press late Sunday evening that children are among the dead. He says it’s possible the death toll could continue to rise, but authorities were pausing search efforts overnight because conditions are too dangerous in the dark due to massive amounts of debris.
Jones said “the devastation is incredible” and that rescue teams would resume their work at first light Monday.
The National Weather Service says a tornado with at least an F3 rating and a track at least half a mile wide caused the deadly destruction.
Meteorologist Chris Darden in Alabama traveled to the scene and confirmed at least F3 damage in extreme southern areas of Lee County, according to a special weather statement issued Sunday evening. The so-called Fujita scale measures wind speed and the corresponding destructive power of a tornado.
Although the statement did not give exact wind estimates, F3 storms typically are gauged at wind speeds of between 158-206 mph.
The weather service says it also determined there was another storm track nearby in Lee County that also will be studied by a team of experts on Monday. It cautions that the information is preliminary and likely to be updated later.