Powerful storms kill at least 18 in southeast US

WASHINGTON, JAN 23 – Powerful weekend storms roared through the southeastern United States, killing 18 people as violent weather left a trail of destruction, authorities said.

Families in Dougherty County in the state of Georgia huddled on the side of a road Sunday, surveying the wrath of a storm that destroyed mobile homes and downed trees, according to video posted by county commission chairman Chris Cohilas.

“This is absolutely devastating,” Cohilas said in the video uploaded to Facebook. “It looks like a nuclear bomb went off.”

“I´ve never seen anything like it.”

The county´s emergency management agency tweeted that shelters were being set up for displaced residents.

At least 14 people had died in south-central Georgia over the weekend, according to the state´s Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency.

And five were still missing according to Adel Mayor Buddy Duke, amid a scene of flattened houses and trees and cars thrown in a heap like toys.

Four others died and 20 were injured on Saturday morning by a tornado that swept through southern Mississippi, according to that state´s emergency services agency.

President Donald Trump told reporters Sunday he had offered his condolences to Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, calling the storms “vicious and powerful and strong.”

“On behalf of all of us, condolences,” Trump said, noting that Florida and Alabama had also been impacted.

Deal had declared a state of emergency in Georgia for seven south-central counties. He said in a statement that the state would request federal assistance in the storms´s aftermath.

“These storms have resulted in loss of life, numerous injuries and extensive property damage,” Deal said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Georgians suffering from the storm´s impact.”