A powerful tornado has killed at least five people after ripping through Alabama and destroying multiple buildings, leaving many residents trapped in their homes, as 50 million people remain at risk for severe weather in the South.  

A house is totally destroyed after the tornado touched down in the Eagle Point community on Thursday 

By Valerie Edwards

The tornado hit small communities south of Birmingham and inflicted catastrophic damage, police said. 

The National Weather Service (NWS) issued tornado watches for much of the state and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department warned residents that the twister was heading toward communities there.

Residents cut away debris after a tornado touched down south of Birmingham, Alabama, in the Eagle Point community on Thursday 

Calhoun County Sheriff Matthew Wade said that five deaths and two injuries have been reported in the Ohatchee and Wellington area, including a family-of-three.

More fatalities are expected as the search and rescue efforts continue in the area, according to local officials. 

A total of seven tornadoes have been reported in Alabama so far, the NWS said. 

The Storm Prediction Center on Thursday afternoon issued a ‘particular dangerous situation’ tornado watch until 8pm CT for about 5.5 million people in parts of Alabama, northwest Georgia, Mississippi and southern Tennessee. 

Damage is seen to a home after a tornado passed through the Eagle Point subdivision on Thursday afternoon

The advisory is issued when there’s high confidence that multiple strong tornadoes of EF-2 strength or higher will occur in the watch area. 

Authorities said another storm is approaching. The storm is also capable of producing tornadoes heading toward South and West Shelby County. 

According to the NWS, a potentially deadly tornado is about 35 miles southeast of Birmingham, near Columbiana, Alabama.

Firefighters responded to the Eagle Point neighborhood Thursday afternoon after a tornado hit the community that sits just south of Birmingham 

The NWS is issued a tornado emergency for the storm, which is moving over more populated areas. The NWS said the warning includes nearly 35,000 people and covers the cities of Columbiana, Shelby, Wilsonville, Oak Grove and Childersburg for the next hour.   

Alabama Gov Kay Ivey released a statement, saying: ‘Significant and dangerous weather continues to impact portions of Alabama, and I urge all folks in the path of these tornadoes and storm systems to remain on high alert. 

Residents survey damage to homes after a tornado hit the Eagle Point community damaging multiple homes

‘Tragically, we are receiving reports of loss of life. I offer my sincerest prayers to all impacted. Unfortunately, the day is not over yet. Y’all please stay safe and vigilant!’

In total, the governor issued a state of emergency in 46 counties in Alabama.   

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