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December, 8, 2016

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Deadly storms add to drought in southern US

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Five people were killed in two states after at least 13 twisters damaged homes, splintered barns and toppled trees in parts of Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee, the National Weather Service confirmed.

At least a dozen more people were injured early Wednesday, adding to a seemingly biblical onslaught of drought, flood and fire plaguing the South.

The storms tore through just as firefighters began to get control of wildfires that killed seven and damaged or wiped out more than 700 homes and businesses around the resort town of Gatlinburg, Tennessee. In Alabama, the weather system dumped more than 2 inches of rain in areas that had been parched by months of choking drought.

Multiple Possible Tornadoes

The National Weather Service was assessing damage from multiple possible tornadoes across the region. At least five hit Alabama, and three more struck southern Tennessee, and one confirmed in Louisiana and at least four in Mississippi, forecasters said.

A possible tornado was spotted on the ground Wednesday a few miles from Atlanta, and flights were briefly delayed at the city's main airport, but no major damage occurred.

Three people were killed and one person critically injured in an Alabama mobile home after an apparent twister hit tiny Rosalie, about 115 miles northeast of Birmingham, said Jackson County Chief Deputy Rocky Harnen.

A suspected tornado was responsible for the death of a husband and wife in southern Tennessee's Polk County, while an unknown number of others were injured, said Tennessee Emergency Management Agency spokesman Dean Flener. No details were immediately available.

The Daily Post-Athenian in Athens, Tennessee, reported the Meigs County sheriff's office said lightning is suspected as the cause of two deaths in a mobile home fire.

The same storm apparently hit a closed day care center in the nearby community of Ider, injuring seven people, including three children who had left their mobile home to seek shelter, said Anthony Clifton, DeKalb County emergency management director.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley issued a state of emergency because of the storms.

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