Nine children among 10 killed in US 15-vehicle crash

Debris covers a street in East Brewton, Alabama after a suspected tornado spurred by Tropical Storm Claudette demolished or badly damaged at least 50 homes. A multi-vehicle crash, likely occurred due to the storm, killed 10 people including nine children. — AP
Debris covers a street in East Brewton, Alabama after a suspected tornado spurred by Tropical Storm Claudette demolished or badly damaged at least 50 homes. A multi-vehicle crash, likely occurred due to the storm, killed 10 people including nine children. — AP

Miami - Tropical depression Claudette claims 12 lives in Alabama as the storm sweeps across the southeastern US, causing flash flooding and tornadoes



By Agencies

Published: Sun 20 Jun 2021, 9:19 PM

Last updated: Sun 20 Jun 2021, 9:38 PM

Nine children and an adult were killed in a fiery multi-vehicle crash on an Alabama highway as heavy storms lashed the southern US state, a county coroner confirmed on Sunday.

Saturday’s crash on an interstate highway near the city of Greenville involved at least 15 vehicles and may have been caused by aquaplaning under heavy rains, Butler County coroner Wayne Garlock said.

The dead included a father and daughter in an SUV, and eight occupants of a van carrying children from a county-run “girls’ ranch” that included foster children, local media reported.

Tropical Depression Claudette claimed a total of 12 lives in Alabama as the storm swept across the southeastern US, causing flash flooding and spurring tornadoes that destroyed dozens of homes.

Garlock said the vehicles likely hydroplaned on wet roads, with eight children, aged 4 to 17, killed in a van belonging to a youth ranch operated by the Alabama Sheriffs Association for abused or neglected children. A man and a 9-month-old baby died in a separate vehicle. Multiple people were also injured.

Meanwhile, a 24-year-old man and a 3-year-old boy were killed when a tree fell on their house just outside the Tuscaloosa city limits on Saturday.

The deaths occurred as drenching rains pelted northern Alabama and Georgia late Saturday. Flash flood watches were posted on Sunday for northern Georgia, most of South Carolina, the North Carolina coast and parts of southeast Alabama and the Florida Panhandle. A tropical storm warning was in effect in North Carolina from the Little River Inlet to the town of Duck on the Outer Banks.

The eight girls killed in the van were returning to a youth ranch operated by the Alabama Sheriffs Association near Camp Hill, northeast of Montgomery, from a week at the beach in Gulf Shores, youth ranches CEO Michael Smith said. He said the director of the Tallapoosa County ranch survived the crash and was hospitalised in Montgomery. At least one of the dead was a child of the director, Smith said.

“This is the worst tragedy I’ve been a part of in my life,” said Smith, who was driving Sunday to Camp Hill to talk to the remaining residents, who had returned from Gulf Shores in a separate van and did not see the wreck.

“Words cannot explain what I saw,” Smith said of the accident site. “We love these girls like they’re our own children.”

More than 20 people were rescued on Saturday by boat due to flooding in Northport, Alabama, WVUA-TV reported. The Tuscaloosa County Emergency Management Agency tweeted that local Red Cross volunteers were on hand to help those who were affected. A shelter was opened in Northport.

Sheriff Heath Jackson in Escambia County said a suspected tornado “pretty much levelled” a mobile home park, toppled trees onto houses and ripped the roof off of a high school gym. Most of the damage was done in or near the towns of Brewton and East Brewton, about 77 kilometres north of Pensacola, Florida.


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