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Deadly Alabama tornado left nearly mile-wide path

"Whatever we can do, we're doing," President Donald Trump said Monday.

By
Clyde Hughes and Danielle Haynes

March 4 (UPI) -- Weather officials said Monday the most destructive tornado that hit Alabama left a path of death and destruction about 24 miles long and nearly 1 mile wide.

The National Weather Service said preliminary data from the storm indicated the tornado in Lee County registered as an EF-4 with winds of 170 mph.

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"A monster tornado as it moved across the area," NWS meteorologist Chris Darden said.

At least two other tornadoes registered as EF-1 -- one that moved from Macon County to Lee County, and another that hit Eufaula and Barbour counties.

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The storm left at least 23 people dead Sunday.

Alabama authorities said they expect the death totals in southeast Alabama to rise as they search for survivors and victims.

Officials have confirmed 23 deaths after the tornadoes struck in the city of Beauregard and hammered numerous other counties near the Alabama-Georgia state line.

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Lee County Coroner Bill Harris said authorities have preliminarily identified all but six of the dead and said they might need fingerprint or DNA testing to put names to the bodies.

"Once we get into some more areas, I'm not going to be surprised if we don't come up with some more deceased," Harris said. "Hopefully, we won't. But it's been a long, long night."

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"Whatever we can do, we're doing," President Donald Trump said of federal relief efforts Monday.

Lee County, where Beauregard is located, sustained the bulk of damage and deaths, officials said. The county's school district said on Instagram all schools would be closed Monday.

The Opelika-Auburn News reported the American Red Cross has opened a shelter in Opelika at the west campus of the Providence Baptist Church. Nearly 2,000 Alabama Power customers in Lee County were without electricity early Monday.

The East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika alone received more than 40 patients.

"It sounded like a race car coming. Like the Indy 500," resident Sam Cook told WRBL-TV. He said a tornado hit in West Smiths Station, Ala.

"It was in a rush," he added. "All of a sudden it just attacked. ... It knocked me to my knees one time."

David Logan, Barbour County emergency management director, said damage from a tornado there left debris around U.S. Highway 431, destroying a fire station, a chicken hatchery and numerous homes. Another tornado hit Weedon Field Airport in Lee County.

Tornadoes also were reported in Washington, Macon, Autauga and Houston counties.

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