ENTERPRISE, Ala. (AP) - Apparent tornadoes killed at least 13 people in Alabama on Thursday, including eight at a high school where students were trapped under a collapsed roof, state officials said.
State Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Yasamie Richardson said eight fatalities "are in relation to the high school but whether they are all students or some students and teachers we're not sure."
House Speaker Seth Hammett, at the statehouse in Montgomery, announced that five people had died at Millers Ferry in west Alabama, where another apparent tornado tore into mobile homes.
Martha Rodriquez, a 15-year-old sophomore, said she had left the school about five minutes before the storm hit. When she returned, a hall at the school had collapsed, she said.
"The stadium was destroyed and there were cars tipped over in the parking lot and trees were ripped out. There were trees and wood everywhere. It was just horrible," she said.
More than 40 people were brought in to an Enterprise hospital as a violent storm front crossed the state.
The high school "appears to have been right in the path," said Paul Duval, a meteorologist with National Weather Service in Tallahassee, Fla., which monitors southeast Alabama.
At Millers Ferry, 66 miles west of Montgomery, trailer homes were flipped over and trees downed, said Bernadine Williams in the Wilcox County emergency management office.
No other details on the deaths there were immediately available.
The burst of tornadoes was part of a larger line of thunderstorm and snowstorms that stretched from Minnesota to the Gulf Coast. Authorities blamed a tornado for the death of a 7-year-old girl in Missouri, and twisters also were reported in Kansas.
Several school systems across Alabama closed or dismissed students early Thursday as the storm front approached from the west, extending the length of the state.