Pope prays for tornado victims as Trump prepares to visit

Pope Francis | Photo: MGN Online

The following article was authored by The Associated Press.

Posted: Mar 6, 2019 10:17 AM

BEAUREGARD, Ala. (AP) — Pope Francis sent condolences Wednesday to tornado victims in Alabama, where searchers have been scouring a dismal landscape of shattered homes, splintered pines and broken lives.

President Donald Trump said he will visit Alabama on Friday to see the damage.

Meanwhile, tornado-ravaged Alabama and several other southern states will be under threat of more severe storms — including the risk of some tornadoes — with a new system that's arriving in the South this weekend, forecasters say.

In Lee County, Alabama, 23 people were killed and dozens more were injured when the powerful tornado ripped through the small community of Beauregard. The youngest of those killed was 6, the oldest 89.

The search for victims, pets and belongings in and around the devastated rural community of Beauregard was being conducted amid the din of beeping heavy machinery and whining chain saws on Tuesday. But Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones said the list of the missing had shrunk from dozens to just seven or eight.

"We've got piles of rubble that we are searching just to make sure," said Opelika Fire Chief Byron Prather Jr. "We don't think we'll find nobody there, but we don't want to leave any stone unturned."

The threat of more tornadoes looms across the South. A vast part of the region from Texas to Georgia will be under threat of severe weather Saturday, the national Storm Prediction Center warned. The area at risk of storms is home to 41 million people and includes major cities such as Dallas, New Orleans and Atlanta.

At the Vatican, Pope Francis said he was praying for the dead and injured of the Alabama tornado, saying he is spiritually close to all those who are suffering and grieving.

Francis sent a telegram of condolences Wednesday to the bishop of Mobile, Alabama, the Most Rev. Thomas Rodi, saying he was saddened to learn of the "tragic loss of life and injuries" caused by the twister.

Francis prayed for peace and strength for the survivors, and that God "may grant eternal rest to the dead, especially the children, and healing and consolation to the injured and those who grieve."

The tornado was an EF4 with winds estimated at 170 mph (274 kph) and carved a path of destruction up to nine-tenths of a mile (1.4 kilometers) wide in Alabama, scraping up the earth in a phenomenon known as "ground rowing," the National Weather Service said. It traveled a remarkable 70 miles (113 kilometers) or so through Alabama and Georgia, where it caused more damage.

It was the deadliest tornado to hit the U.S. since May 2013, when an EF5 twister killed 24 people in Moore, Oklahoma.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 68293

Reported Deaths: 1944
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds5700119
DeSoto371031
Harrison260136
Madison245569
Jackson231444
Rankin230735
Jones193159
Forrest182656
Washington170142
Lee152142
Lauderdale141592
Neshoba128892
Lamar123115
Bolivar113635
Oktibbeha113339
Warren112535
Lowndes109239
Panola106816
Sunflower105625
Scott101120
Lafayette98719
Copiah96228
Leflore94966
Pike94037
Holmes91049
Grenada85123
Pontotoc8429
Yazoo84113
Lincoln83442
Monroe82155
Simpson80631
Leake79526
Coahoma78113
Wayne78021
Tate74330
Marshall7129
Marion68420
Union66216
Adams63225
Winston62916
Covington62214
George5956
Pearl River55940
Newton54511
Tallahatchie54111
Attala52725
Walthall50221
Chickasaw47619
Noxubee46112
Tishomingo4377
Alcorn4355
Calhoun4259
Prentiss42310
Claiborne40914
Smith40613
Hancock40214
Clay40114
Jasper3949
Itawamba38710
Tippah37414
Tunica3587
Clarke33626
Montgomery3295
Lawrence3238
Yalobusha31610
Humphreys29712
Quitman2691
Carroll26111
Greene25612
Perry2428
Amite2376
Webster23712
Kemper23314
Jefferson Davis2336
Wilkinson21513
Stone2115
Sharkey2045
Jefferson1957
Benton1451
Choctaw1354
Franklin1312
Issaquena272
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 99926

Reported Deaths: 1781
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson13366246
Mobile10581212
Montgomery6825151
Madison546934
Tuscaloosa426979
Unassigned392566
Baldwin367029
Shelby333437
Marshall319438
Lee270847
Morgan241819
Etowah218034
DeKalb183414
Calhoun181918
Elmore176039
Walker154465
Houston142813
Russell13892
St. Clair136320
Limestone135913
Dallas133624
Franklin129722
Cullman123012
Colbert121517
Lauderdale119020
Autauga116222
Escambia108817
Talladega105414
Jackson10264
Tallapoosa87579
Chambers84738
Dale84329
Clarke82610
Chilton8189
Blount8165
Butler77036
Coffee7656
Covington74021
Pike7137
Marion58226
Barbour5796
Lowndes57124
Marengo56616
Hale48526
Bullock48111
Winston45711
Perry4454
Bibb4445
Washington44412
Wilcox43410
Monroe4236
Pickens4089
Randolph40211
Conecuh39310
Sumter36618
Lawrence3542
Macon33914
Crenshaw3326
Choctaw28912
Cherokee2768
Clay2675
Geneva2652
Henry2643
Greene25211
Lamar2302
Fayette2235
Cleburne1291
Coosa1053
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