At Least 5 Dead in Alabama as Severe Tornadoes and Storms Sweep Through Southeastern United States

The fatalities included a family of three who were killed in Ohatchee, about 60 miles northeast of Birmingham

alabama tornadoes
Photo: Butch Dill/AP/Shutterstock

Multiple people are dead after a tornado swept through Calhoun County, Alabama, on Thursday.

At least five people — including a family of three — have died in the severe weather so far, the Calhoun County Emergency Management Agency confirms to PEOPLE. It's not clear how many structures were damaged or how many other people were injured at this time, officials said during a press conference Thursday night.

Emergency personnel focused their efforts on search and rescue in the hours after the tornado, and will turn to damage assessment on Wednesday, Calhoun County emergency officer Myles Chamblee told reporters.

The fatalities included a family of three who were killed in Ohatchee, about 60 miles northeast of Birmingham. A man and a woman living in mobile homes also died, Calhoun County Coroner Pat Brown told CNN.

The Calhoun County Coroner did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

A tornado warning was issued in the area around 2:24 p.m. local time, as officials warned residents to take shelter. The warning continued to stay in effect until around 6:15 p.m., according to Calhoun County EMA. Calhoun County will remain under a tornado watch until 1 a.m.

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The National Weather service said that 14 tornadoes were reported in Alabama on Thursday, as storm systems engulfed the southeast region. Parts of the state were still under a tornado warning as of 10 p.m. local time.

alabama tornadoes
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A majority of the state was under a severe weather alert throughout the day, according to Alabama EMA.

The agency urged residents to be on high alert for a tornado warning to be issued in their area and "have at least two methods to receive severe weather information 24 hours a day, which does NOT include an outdoor warning siren."

Dozens of structures have been reported damaged, and many other people are injured across the state. In Pelham, Alabama, 60 homes were damaged — 22 of which sustained "major damage," CNN reports. At this time, no other fatalities have been reported.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey issued a statement after reports surfaced that the severe weather had killed multiple people.

alabama tornadoes
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"Significant and dangerous weather continues to impact portions of Alabama, and I urge all folks in the path of these tornadoes and storms systems to remain on high alert," she said. "Tragically, we are receiving reports of loss of life. I offer my sincerest prayers to all impacted."

She added: "Unfortunately, the day is not over yet. Y'all please stay safe and vigilant!"

More than 55 million people from the Gulf Coast to western Pennsylvania remain threatened by severe weather, according to the Storm Prediction Center. Nearly 8 million people across Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky are the most at risk.

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