HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) – Four people were killed early Saturday when a tornado ripped through the Hattiesburg area, officials in Mississippi said.
The city of Hattiesburg said via its Twitter account that four people had died after a tornado blew through the city and surrounding area.
Mayor Johnny DuPress has signed an emergency declaration for Hattiesburg. Significant injuries and structural damage was reported.
The city also said via Twitter that Hattiesburg firefighters and police are going door-to-door to try to rescue victims.
Greg Flynn of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency said “massive damage” was reported in a three-county area that was struck by a tornado at around 4 a.m.
A Hattiesburg woman says her son and father died in the tornado that swept through the area overnight.
Authorities have not yet released the names of the four people who died. But Monica McCarty says her father died in the same trailer park where she and her boyfriend live.
She says her son was apparently crushed while in bed at her mother’s house where he lived.
McCarty was weeping as her boyfriend Tackeem Molley comforted her.
Molley says the two were in a trailer when the storm hit. He climbed out through a hole in what had either been the trailer’s roof or wall.
In the blocks surrounding the couple, power company trucks were running up and down the streets. A city backhoe was plowing debris from the road. Dozens of homes were damaged.
William Carey University, a Christian university with a campus in Hattiesburg, says on its Twitter feed that the campus is closed until further notice. Its Tradition campus near the coast is still open.
The university says students are being escorted from the Hattiesburg campus and arrangements are being made for students who can’t go home.
The university reports some students had minor injuries, and some dorms were damaged.
Photos posted on the university’s Twitter feed showed vehicles in a parking lot flipped over and parts of a brick building ripped down.