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Tornado rips through Mississippi town

A tornado tore through the business district of Newton, Miss. at 12:45 p.m. Thursday.

BY TRAVIS DUNN | NEWTON, Miss. | December 19, 2002

A tornado tore through the business district of Newton, Miss. at 12:45 p.m. Thursday, severely damaging a Wal-Mart packed with hundreds of holiday shoppers and knocking out the city's power grid, according to Amy Carruth, spokesperson for the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency.

More than 50 people were injured; two were left in critical condition.

While no one was killed, Carruth said, rescue workers searched the rubble for anyone who might have been buried.

The tornado also damaged a La-Z-Boy factory, a strip mall and several restaurants.

Meteorologist Jim Butch, with the National Weather Service in Jackson, said preliminary reports indicated that the tornado was either a strong F-2 or a "low end" F-3.

The tornado, he said, was part of the same storm system that caused severe damage in Missouri and Arkansas on Wednesday and Thursday morning.

On Thursday evening the storm was moving into southern Alabama and western Georgia. Tornado watches had been issued in those areas.

The town of West Lincoln, Miss., also saw some storm damage, which may have been caused by a tornado.

Clifford Gaily, civil defense director for Lincoln County, said he had made a preliminary assessment Thursday afternoon, but he wouldn't know if a tornado had come through until meteorologists from the National Weather Service checked it out.

Gaily said there were spots of wind damage in a four to five mile stretch. Several trailer homes were destroyed, and power was cut off to more than 200 people.

No one was injured or killed, Gaily said.


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