Authorities have confirmed at least 23 deaths from a cluster of tornadoes Sunday in East Alabama. As search and rescue operations continue Monday, the death toll is expected to rise.
The sheriff of Lee County, Alabama, where the tornadoes touched down, confirmed the death toll Sunday and said the most destructive tornado had appeared to be at least half a mile wide, according to the Associated Press. That tornado carved a miles-long path in a rural area south of Opelika at wind speeds estimated to have reached between 158 and 206 mph. According to CNN, two tornadoes hit Lee County within an hour.
The death toll from the one weather event is already more than double the total death toll from all tornadoes in the U.S. last year. Ten people—a record low—died in tornadoes in 2018, according to the National Weather Service.
According to AL.com, the victims ranged from children to adults in their 80s. Many others lost homes, and a local hospital has said it received more than 40 patients injured in the tornado.
Sunday’s severe weather caused damage to several other counties in Alabama and Georgia, and at least a dozen tornadoes touched down in the area. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has extended a state of emergency issued last month because of tornadoes and extreme weather.