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12 tornado touch downs reported

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PEARL, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Governor Phil Bryant declared a State of Emergency ahead of 12 confirmed tornado touchdowns in the state Monday.

Jim Craig with the State Health Department said there are six unconfirmed deaths in four counties. As of Monday night 60 people were reported injured, four were in critical condition in the Louisville area.

Governor Bryant said the worst damage is in Winston county where search and rescue efforts were expected to continue into Tuesday morning.

"Do not drive to one of these locations and take any particular support with you until we have an opportunity to complete our search and rescue, until law enforcement has cleared the area, until we have shelters established," said Bryant during the MEMA briefing.

MEMA Executive Director Robert Latham said search and rescue efforts are the first priority and the first passes at the local levels have not been completed.

"We've been through this many times, but there are large numbers of people that are unaccounted for, and we know that many of them are fine," said Latham. We just need to find out where they are."

Near MEMA headquarters on Whitfield Road, a tornado appeared to have touched down damaging homes and buildings in the area.

One Pearl resident , parked in the Mid-South Auction lot, said she saw the tornado from a distance.

"We were sitting there eating supper and snatched the kids up and we were parked over at the gas station and we could see debris flying all around," said Kelly Lancaster of Pearl. "As a matter of fact, I think it spun a car around right over here."

There was extensive damage to the Mid-South Auctions building. The parking lot was filled with damaged vehicles and twisted metal from the structure.

A tree fell onto a house across the street on Whitfield Road. No word on injuries there. Fences were downed and several trees were uprooted.

Power was lost throughout the Pearl area. Motorists had to maneuver without traffic lights at the busy intersection of I-20 and Airport Road.

Residents are asked to remain at home or in a safe location and stay off the roadways. MEMA officials say another round of severe weather is expected throughout the day.

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