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6 dead after strong storms sweep U.S. south

Rolanda Robinson calls family and friends from her brother's damaged home in Monroe, La. after a tornado ripped through the town on Sunday, April 12, 2020.
Rolanda Robinson calls family and friends from her brother's damaged home in Monroe, La. after a tornado ripped through the town on Sunday, April 12, 2020. (Nicolas Galindo/The News-Star via AP)

NEW ORLEANS — Strong storms pounded the Deep South on Sunday, killing at least six people in south Mississippi and damaging up to 300 homes and other buildings in northern Louisiana.

Mississippi Emergency Management Agency director Greg Michel said one person killed was in Walthall County, two were killed in Lawrence County and three were killed in Jefferson Davis County. All three counties are more than an hour’s drive south of Jackson, near the Louisiana state line.

READ MORE: Threat of Easter tornadoes in U.S. poses safety dilemma during coronavirus pandemic

The National Weather Service said strong winds were sweeping through other parts of Mississippi, and a tornado was spotted north of Meridian near the Alabama state line.

Before the storms moved into Mississippi, the weather service reported multiple tornadoes and damaging winds over much of northern Louisiana. There were no immediate reports of serious injuries. Utility companies reported thousands of power outages.

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Neighbours inspect a house for occupants in Monroe, La. after an Easter tornado ripped through the town just before noon on Sunday, April 12, 2020. (Nicolas Galindo/The News-Star via AP)
Neighbours inspect a house for occupants in Monroe, La. after an Easter tornado ripped through the town just before noon on Sunday, April 12, 2020. (Nicolas Galindo/The News-Star via AP).

The mayor of Monroe, Louisiana, Jamie Mayo, told KNOE-TV that the storm damaged 200-300 homes in and around the city. Flights were cancelled at Monroe Regional Airport, where siding was ripped off buildings and debris was scattered on runways. Airport director Ron Phillips told the News-Star the storm caused up to $30 million in damage to planes inside a hangar.

Click to play video 'Incredible cellphone footage show tornado which ripped through Arkansas' Incredible cellphone footage show tornado which ripped through Arkansas
Incredible cellphone footage show tornado which ripped through Arkansas – Mar 30, 2020

In northwest Louisiana, officials reported damage to dozens of homes in DeSoto and Webster parishes, according to news outlets.

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The weather service said the greatest risk for strong Easter Sunday storms covered much of Mississippi, Alabama and western Georgia. That area was at “moderate risk” while much of the rest of the South was under at least a “marginal” risk, the weather service said.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: World celebrates Easter from afar as new virus hot spots sprout

The weather service said a broader area, from east Texas to the East Coast was under at least a “marginal” risk of storms.

In Morgan County, Alabama, a church roof and steeple were damaged by lightning Sunday afternoon, Morgan County Emergency Management Agency Eddie Hicks told AL.com. Shoals Creek Baptist Church in Priceville was struck by lightning Sunday afternoon. No injuries were reported.

WBMA-TV reported that strong winds damaged buildings and snapped trees in Walker County, Alabama, north of Birmingham.