HATTIESBURG, Mississippi-  WLBT reports three people are dead after a large tornado ripped through parts of Hattiesburg and Petal in the early hours of Saturday morning, according to the Forrest County coroner’s office. The death toll is expected to rise.

Extensive damage has been reported on Arledge Street near the Hattiesburg Police Department. Damage is evident for multiple blocks. There are reports of structures destroyed, roofs missing and downed trees and power lines.

William Carey also took a major hit from the storm.

“There are some minor injuries,” said Mia Overton, William Carey public relations coordinator. “Officials are working to ensure students are safe and accounted for. There is damage to most buildings on campus including cars and a home across campus is damaged.”

Overton said emergency officials are on campus assessing the damage.

Mayor Johnny DuPree has boarded a flight and is on his way back from Washington D.C.

Fire station number 2 in Downtown Hattiesburg suffered a direct hit. Power lines are blocking one of their firetrucks and power crews are on scene trying to assist.

Firefighters from that station left on foot to assist those in need, WLBT says.

There are many trapped residents being rescued in downtown Hattiesburg.

Multiple gas lines have been ruptured and are broken in downtown Hattiesburg and Petal. Lines are actively leaking.

A gas leak has also ruptured on Helveston Road near William Carey.

Extensive damage has also been reported on Sullivan Kilraine Road and Richburg Road in Lamar County.

Emergency officials are urging everyone to stay away from downtown Hattiesburg. There is too much debris and downed power lines.

 

There is also extensive damage in Petal, the report says.

The strip mall near Foxes Pizza is destroyed. The Walmart also suffered significant damage. Most roads in Petal are impassible. There are also reports of a building being swept into the road, making Carterville Road and the Main Street intersection impassible.

Perry County Sheriff Mitch Nobles also reported damage in Runnelstown, but nothing specific.

There is also reports of homes and roads flooded in Rawls Springs, specifically near Cherokee Road.

Search and rescue teams are being deployed to assist Forrest County emergency management in the Hattiesburg area.

The Mississippi Highway Patrol is reporting Interstate 59 north of Hattiesburg is closed due to debris.

There are power lines and debris over a large area so the public is asked to avoid traveling.

Severe weather is still moving through the southeastern part of the state.

The State Emergency Operations Center is activated providing resources as needed from counties.

See full report here