10 killed as tornado strikes US; more than a dozen injured

Local governor describes "utter obliteration" of picturesque hilly area rising above Mississippi delta; debris force rescuers to use all-terrain vehicles.

mississippi tornado 311 (photo credit: AP)
mississippi tornado 311
(photo credit: AP)
YAZOO CITY, Mississippi — Tornadoes ripped through the Southeast on Saturday, killing 10 people in, including three children, and injuring more than a dozen others.
Roofs were torn off businesses, homes were splintered, vehicles were overturned and roads were blocked by toppled trees.
Mississippi Emergency Management Agency spokesman Greg Flynn said five people were killed in Choctaw County, including two children. Four victims were in Yazoo County and one was in Holmes County.
Gov. Haley Barbour told The Associated Press there was "utter obliteration" in parts of Yazoo County, an area known for cotton, catfish, blues music and picturesque hills rising abruptly from the flat Mississippi Delta.
More than 15 other counties were also damaged. The swath of debris forced rescuers to pick up some of the injured on all-terrain vehicles the west-central part of the state.
Tornadoes were also reported in Louisiana, Arkansas and Alabama, and the severe weather continued to track eastward.
In Yazoo City, Malcolm Gordon, 63, stood with members of his family peering through a broken window. Above them, the roof was gone, a tree lay across part of the house and power lines stretched across the yard in a neighborhood made up of modest houses and mobile homes on a street that winds around hills and ravines. The smell of shredded pine trees hung the warm breeze.
Gordon looked around at the devastation. "It sounded like a train coming down that road," he said.
Gordon and his wife, Diane, hid in a closet while much of the neighborhood was blown away.
"I'll just bulldoze what's left and start over," he said.
The tornado slammed Yazoo County, then headed northeast to adjacent Holmes County before striking Choctaw County.
Thousands across the state were without electricity, and downed power lines and trees blocked roads. At least four people had been brought by four-wheeler to a triage center at an old discount store parking lot, Yazoo City Mayor McArthur Straughter said as sirens whined in the background.
Jim Pollard, a spokesman for American Medical Response ambulance service, said four patients from Yazoo County were airlifted and some 17 others were taken to hospitals. At least four people were in critical condition.
The severe weather darkened skies and dumped rain on the region, much of which was under a tornado watch or warning at some point during the day.
The weather hampered crews trying to clean up an oil spill after an offshore rig exploded earlier this week off the coast of Louisiana. Several sporting events and festivals also were rescheduled.
In northeast Louisiana, several people had minor injuries. The storms also damaged a tank at a chemical plant in Tallulah, causing a small nitrogen leak.