- Associated Press - Saturday, January 21, 2017

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) - The Latest on a tornado in southern Mississippi (all times local):

11:30 a.m.

A Hattiesburg woman says her son and father died in the tornado that swept through the area overnight.

Authorities have not yet released the names of the four people who died. But Monica McCarty says her father died in the same trailer park where she and her boyfriend live.

She says her son was apparently crushed while in bed at her mother’s house where he lived.

McCarty was weeping as her boyfriend Tackeem Molley comforted her.

Molley says the two were in a trailer when the storm hit. He climbed out through a hole in what had either been the trailer’s roof or wall.

In the blocks surrounding the couple, power company trucks were running up and down the streets. A city backhoe was plowing debris from the road. Dozens of homes were damaged.

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10 a.m.

More than 40 firefighters from across Mississippi are assembling outside Hattiesburg police headquarters to search for the dead and injured from an early morning tornado.

Gulfport Fire Department Battalion Chief Chris Henderson says the task force will do a grid search from the police headquarters to nearby William Carey University in one of the most heavily damaged areas.

The firefighters are bringing dogs and all-terrain vehicles.

Hattiesburg police Lt. Allen Murray says authorities remain concerned about downed power lines and possible gas leaks and are encouraging people to stay at home.

Murray says that among structures damaged was a Hattiesburg fire station. He says the city does not yet have an estimate on how many buildings are damaged or destroyed.

Four people died during the early morning twister.

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9:45 a.m.

Thousands of customers in southern Mississippi are without power due to severe weather that pummeled the region.

Mississippi Power Company says 8,314 customers are without power. The vast majority of those are in Forrest County, where a tornado ripped through the Hattiesburg area early morning.

The Pearl River Valley Electric Power Association reports 3,787 of its customers are without power while Southern Pine Electric Power Association reports 666 of its customers are in the dark.

Four people died during the early morning twister.

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9 a.m.

A college in a southern Mississippi town where a tornado struck says it’s closing and students are being evacuated.

William Carey University, a Christian university with a campus in Hattiesburg, says on its Twitter feed that the campus is closed until further notice. Its Tradition campus near the coast is still open.

The university says students are being escorted from the Hattiesburg campus and arrangements are being made for students who can’t go home.

The university reports some students had minor injuries, and some dorms were damaged.

Photos posted on the university’s Twitter feed showed vehicles in a parking lot flipped over and parts of a brick building ripped down.

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8:10 a.m.

A twister has wreaked havoc on the Hattiesburg area of southern Mississippi.

Photos and television images showed the intensity of the damage.

Four people were killed early Saturday when a tornado ripped through the area.

Cars had been flipped over, sometimes piled on top of each other while parts of houses were ripped into shards of wood and debris.

Once tall trees were ripped from their roots and thrown across roads.

As dawn rose over the city, rescue workers and residents walked down streets strewn with debris and still wet from the storm.

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7:47 a.m.

Four people were killed early Saturday when a tornado ripped through the Hattiesburg area, officials in Mississippi said.

The city of Hattiesburg said via its Twitter account that four people had died after a tornado blew through the city and surrounding area.

Mayor Johnny DuPress has signed an emergency declaration for Hattiesburg. Significant injuries and structural damage was reported.

The city also said via Twitter that Hattiesburg firefighters and police are going door-to-door to try to rescue victims.

Greg Flynn of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency said “massive damage” was reported in a three-county area that was struck by a tornado at around 4 a.m.

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