'Monster tornado' that killed nearly two dozen in Alabama is country's deadliest storm in years
The tornadoes in eastern Alabama that killed at least 23 people, three of whom were young children, included a "monster tornado" and the deadliest storm in the country since 2013.
Nearly all of the victims whose bodies have been recovered from Sunday's tornados have been identified, Lee County Coroner Bill Harris said at a press conference Monday. Among the bodies recovered were three children, ages 6, 9 and 10, according to Harris.
"It's been a long, long night," Harris said. "Some of these families have lost practically almost the entire family."
As of Monday afternoon, no additional victims had been recovered through search and rescue efforts but authorities have not yet finished looking, Sheriff Jay Jones said Monday.
Several tornadoes hit the state of Alabama on Sunday afternoon, including a "monster tornado," which reached an estimated wind speed of 170 mph, according to Chris Darden of the National Weather Service.
Darden said Monday that the tornado had been upgraded to an EF4 designation, the second-highest category used to rate tornadoes based on damage and wind speed.
Experts have estimated the tornado was about a mile wide and spanned at least 24 miles in length, though that estimate could increase as surveyors examine the storm's track across the Georgia border, according to Darden.
Authorities began predicting the possibility of tornadoes on Thursday and issued watches and warnings beginning early Sunday.
The tornado is the deadliest since 2013, when an EF5 tornado killed 24 people in Moore, Oklahoma. It's also the first tornado-related fatality for the state of Alabama since November 2016, Darden said.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey declared a statewide emergency. The Federal Emergency Management Agency was sending a team, whose primary focus would be on search and rescue "as there are many people unaccounted for," according to Ivey.
President Donald Trump called Ivey early Monday to offer his condolences and support, she said Monday. Trump also tweeted about the tragedy earlier in the day.
"FEMA has been told directly by me to give the A Plus treatment to the Great State of Alabama and the wonderful people who have been so devastated by the Tornadoes," President Donald Trump wrote in a tweet Monday.