A tornado swept through a northern suburb of Birmingham, Alabama, late Monday night, collapsing buildings, trapping people in their homes and triggering frantic rescue efforts, authorities said.
The storm, which struck the town of Fultondale just before 11 p.m. local time, was part of a swathe of severe weather systems that stretched across much of the southeast, local meteorologists reported.
A Hampton Inn on Interstate 65 in Fultondale was mutilated by the tornado, which tore part of the roof, photos shared online showed.
“We still have people trapped in houses,” Larry Holcomb, the city’s mayor, said by phone Tuesday.
Mr Holcomb said emergency responders were assessing the damage, but was not aware of any deaths at midnight. The mayor said he was at his home when the tornado hit and the streets in his neighborhood were blocked by fallen trees.
City fire chief Justin McKenzie told the TV station Birmingham ABC 33/40 that Fultondale was “seriously affected, several injuries, several houses, trees, people trapped”.
High winds and heavy rain continued to move through the tornado-affected area, hampering search and rescue efforts, according to local news reports.
Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency urged the public to avoid the area.
“In addition to road hazards such as power lines and debris,” the agency said on Twitter, “traffic is obstructing the roads. Again, PLEASE stay out of the area. “
The northbound lanes of Interstate 65, the north-south highway that crosses the state, were closed after the tornado hit Fultondale due to a major accident, the Department of Transportation said. Alabama. It was not immediately clear whether the accident was caused by the tornado or its aftermath.