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Damaged structures sit on the ground in the aftermath of severe weather, Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023, near Joffre, Ala. A large tornado damaged homes and uprooted trees in Alabama on Thursday as a powerful storm system pushed through the South. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt) Image Credit: AP

Washington: At least six people were killed on Thursday when a tornado and powerful storms ravaged the southern US state of Alabama, rescue officials confirmed.

The storms continued east to rake the neighbouring state of Georgia, where the National Weather Service maintained tornado warnings in the early evening.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey tweeted that she was “sad to have learned that six Alabamians were lost to the storms.”

The victims were killed in Autauga County, deputy director of emergency services Gary Weaver told AFP.

A tornado touched down in Dallas County as well, ripping roofs off buildings and causing “significant damage,” according to Selma Mayor James Perkins, who called on residents to stay off roads and keep away from downed power lines.

“City crews will be dispatched as soon as possible to clean up,” the city added on Facebook.

Other counties where states of emergency were declared included Chambers, Coosa, Elmore and Tallapoosa.

Tornadoes, a weather phenomenon that is as impressive as it is difficult to predict, are relatively common in the United States, especially in the central and southern parts of the country.

In late November, 36 tornados were reported in Alabama and Mississippi, leaving two people dead.