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At least 23 dead as tornadoes, storms sweep through Mississippi

At least 23 people were killed as thunderstorms and a tornado swept across parts of Mississippi starting Friday, according to local officials. Photo by Mississippi Highway Patrol/EPA-EFE
1 of 2 | At least 23 people were killed as thunderstorms and a tornado swept across parts of Mississippi starting Friday, according to local officials. Photo by Mississippi Highway Patrol/EPA-EFE

March 25 (UPI) -- At least 23 people died as tornadoes and heavy thunderstorms unleashed a wave of destruction in Mississippi, authorities said Saturday.

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency confirmed in an early morning update that 23 were killed, dozens more injured and four people were reported missing due to the storms, which struck late Friday.

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"Numerous" search and rescue teams were continuing to work through the morning in the devastated areas, the officials said.

Thirteen people died in Sharkey County, Miss., coroner Angelia Easton told ABC News.

A tornado was first detected at approximately 8:50 p.m. near Rolling Fork, Miss., located about 85 miles northwest of Jackson, then travelled about 100 miles to Winona, Miss., where an emergency tornado alert was issued.

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said the many victims in the state's Delta region "need your prayer and God's protection tonight," adding that medical support has been activated in the area.

"Search and rescue is active. Watch weather reports and stay cautious through the night, Mississippi," Reeves tweeted late Friday.

In an update posted to Facebook, State Highway Patrol Trooper John Watson urged people to avoid the Silver Springs, Miss., area.

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"If you don't have any family, immediate family or anything like that in this general area im asking that you please do not come to Silver City it is very chaotic," Watson said.

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