Teenager killed as tornado rips through Alabama town bringing tree down on house

A Hampton Inn hotel is severely damaged
16:20pm, Tue 26 Jan 2021
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A teenager huddling in his basement has been killed and several of his family members were critically injured when a tornado blew a tree on to their home in Alabama and it collapsed on top of them.

The tornado left a path of destruction on Monday night in Fultondale, north of Birmingham, with cars, furniture, appliances and tree limbs left strewn about amid piles of debris.

Police Chief DP Smith said several other family members trapped in the basement were critically injured, while one escaped harm. The teenager was pronounced dead at the scene on Tuesday morning.

“They were doing what they were supposed to be doing,” the chief said.

Fultondale Fire Chief Justin McKenzie said 17 people were admitted to hospital and 11 others were treated at the scene, WVTM-TV reported.

Injuries ranged from minor to severe but search and rescue efforts are ongoing, said James Coker, director of Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency.

He said Interstate 65 was closed due to downed power lines and debris, and workers were removing obstacles from the roads.

Other homes and buildings were damaged in the storm, including a Hampton Inn hotel, which sustained significant structural damage.

“The people of Fultondale took a hard hit last night — I’m grieved over the loss of life, injuries, homes & damaged businesses,” Alabama governor Kay Ivey said on Twitter early on Tuesday.

“I offer my prayers & deepest sympathies & pledge the full support & resources our state has to offer. I am with you, Fultondale!”

The tornado’s path of damage stretched for 10 miles from Fultondale to Centre Point, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said in its daily operations briefing on Tuesday.

Survey crews from the National Weather Service had yet to confirm details such as the twister’s estimated strength, but FEMA described it as a “large tornado”.

Fultondale is a Birmingham suburb which is home to about 9,000 people.

The area was heavily damaged nearly 10 years ago, on April 27 2011, when a deadly F-4 tornado cut an 80-mile path of destruction through the state from Tuscaloosa to north of Birmingham, killing 65 people and injuring 1,500.

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