Tornadoes tear through Mississippi, Alabama

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A swarm of tornadoes tore through several counties in southern Mississippi and Alabama on Sunday (February 10), injuring at least 10 people and ripping apart hundreds of homes and other buildings.

Area affected including parts of the University of Southern Mississippi, authorities said.

The Forrest County seat of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and the adjacent town of Petal, both about 100 miles southeast of Jackson, the state capital, bore the brunt of storms that struck less than an hour before dark.

The tornado that plowed through the Hattiesburg area was believed to have reached three-quarters of a mile in diameter at times, said meteorologists for the National Weather Service.

The weather service counted three separate twisters in south-central Mississippi on Sunday evening.

In neighboring southwestern Alabama, authorities reported a flurry of seven tornadoes across three counties, including one that damaged 46 homes in Clark County, Weather Service meteorologists said.

Emergency management officials said no firm estimates of property losses were immediately available. Power outages were widespread.

Video footage showed what appeared to be a large, gray tornado, filmed from a distance, churning through town as a cloud of debris swirled around it.

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant declared a state of emergency in four Mississippi counties - Forrest, Lamar, Marion and Lawrence - and other areas hit by the storms.

The Hattiesburg area also suffered heavy property damage during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.