Deadly tornadoes rip through Mississippi on December 23, 2014.
Deaths reported as thunderstorms along US Gulf Coast cause destruction through Marion and Jones counties.
Tornado unleashed by thunderstorms along the US Gulf Coast ripped through south-eastern Mississippi on Tuesday, killing at least four people, injuring numerous others and causing extensive damage to homes and businesses.
The National Weather Service has confirmed that the tornado that struck two Mississippi counties Tuesday was an EF-3 at its strongest point.
One of the heaviest hit areas was a commercial district along the US Highway 98 bypass in the town of Columbia in Marion county, about 30 miles (48km) west of Hattiesburg.
One woman was killed in a shopping centre and another in a nearby trailer home. Two more storm-related fatalities were confirmed in Jones county to the north-east, and both victims there were believed to have died in their homes. Numerous people were known to have been hurt in both counties, some seriously.
Property damage in Marion county are “massive” including homes and businesses, as well as vehicles flipped over by the storm, which struck at about 2.30pm local time. Damage also was reported in Jones county which was struck about an hour later.
The twisters were spawned by thunderstorms in the region, and that severe weather was moving into north-western Alabama, followed by a wave of heavy showers that were expected to dump four or five inches (100-150mm) of rain in some areas.