A series of deadly tornadoes touched down in Alabama on Sunday, destroying buildings and killing at least 23 people, according to CNN. The victims were all residents of Lee County, which borders Georgia and the city of Columbus.
Sheriff Jay Jones told CNN affiliate WRBL that the death toll is not final, and “may rise yet again.” The victims range from children to older adults. There were also at least 40 injuries as a result of the tornadoes, according to WAFB.
“This is a day of destruction for Lee County. We’ve never had a mass fatality situation, that I can remember, like this in my lifetime,” Lee County Coroner Bill Harris told NBC affiliate WSFA.
The path of destruction was about half a mile wide, and stretched several miles. Jones told WRBL that the damage looked “as if someone had taken a blade and just scraped the ground.”
Dozens of buildings were destroyed in multiple towns, including an airport and fire station in Eufaula, AL.
The damage and deaths are the result of two tornadoes that struck Lee County within an hour of each other on Sunday. They were part of a dozen that hit Alabama and Georgia.
“Our hearts go out to those who lost their lives in the storms that hit Lee County today,” Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey tweeted. “Praying for their families & everyone whose homes or businesses were affected. Officials from @AlabamaEma & other agencies are quickly working to provide assistance.”
Donald Trump tweeted his condolences to tornado victims as well.
Ivey announced she would extend the state of emergency she declared in Alabama last month due to extreme weather.
The severe weather in the South has lasted for weeks. On February 25th, another tornado on the border of Alabama and Mississippi left one person dead.
Authorities in Lee County were still trying to conduct rescues and locate victims on Sunday night.
“We’ve done everything we feel like we can do this evening. The area is just very, very hazardous to put anybody in to at this point in time—debris everywhere and it’s just...just some mass damage to structures and residences in the area,” Jones told WAFB.