LEE COUNTY, Ala. — Government teams surveying storm damage across the Southeast have confirmed that at least 18 tornadoes struck in a deadly weekend outbreak.
The National Weather Service says storm systems crossing the region Sunday spun off tornadoes in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina alone.
The most powerful twister was an EF4 tornado packing 170 mph (274 kph) winds that’s been blamed for at least 23 deaths in Lee County, Alabama. The weather service says that tornado crossed into western Georgia and inflicted more damage.
The number of confirmed tornadoes could increase. Survey teams are still assessing storm damage in some areas.
Meanwhile, Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones says the search for tornado victims is still active, with the crews now looking at a smaller area and specific piles of wreckage.
The sheriff said Tuesday that the list of unaccounted people is down to seven or eight.
He says law enforcement teams are working the area by foot with the help of cadaver-sniffing dogs and also searching by air. In one hard-hit area, a small excavator turned over pieces of splintered homes and trees, which firefighters then searched for signs of potential victims.
Jones says authorities are contacting family and friends of the missing to confirm their status, since some of those unaccounted-for may have checked in but not with authorities.