Mississippi girl swept away by floodwaters likely dead: officials

JACKSON, Mississippi Mon Apr 7, 2014 3:11pm EDT

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JACKSON, Mississippi (Reuters) - A 9-year-old girl was missing and presumed dead on Monday after being swept away in flash floods triggered by severe storms in Mississippi, while more than 100 people were rescued from deluged apartment buildings in Alabama, authorities said.

Divers in Yazoo City, Mississippi, searched culverts and ditches for the girl, who was last seen on Sunday night playing in floodwaters near her home, said Joey Ward, director of the local emergency management agency.

The rescue effort was reclassified as a recovery on Monday as thunderstorms battered parts of the Southeast, bringing threats of hail and damaging winds.

"You move to recovery when all the efforts have been exhausted, as well as the time the person could reasonably be alive given the conditions," Ward said.

In Covington County, Mississippi, seven people suffered minor injuries when a tornado apparently damaged homes overnight, the state emergency management agency said.

In the Birmingham, Alabama, suburb of Homewood, firefighters worked for six hours to evacuate more than 100 residents by boat and rope pulls after swift waters from a nearby creek flooded their apartments, said town Fire Department Lieutenant Gus Murphree.

No one was injured, he said.

Flood watches and warnings were in effect as storms dumped heavy rain across the Southeast. An early tally by the National Weather Service showed that some cities had received as much as 7 to 8 inches of rainfall.

(Additional reporting by Verna Gates; Writing by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Jonathan Oatis)

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