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12 dead in Alabama due to Claudette, including 10 children

12 dead in Alabama due to Claudette, including 10 children
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ATLANTA -- Tropical Depression Claudette claimed 12 lives in Alabama as the storm swept across the southeastern U.S., causing flash flooding and spurring tornadoes that destroyed dozens of homes.

Ten people, including nine children, were killed Saturday in a 15-vehicle crash about 35 miles (55 kilometers) south of Montgomery on Interstate 65, according to Butler County Coroner Wayne Garlock.

He said the vehicles likely hydroplaned on wet roads, with eight children, ages 4 to 17, killed in a van belonging to a youth ranch operated by the Alabama Sheriffs Association for abused or neglected children. Two people died in separate vehicle, Garlock told local news outlets -- 29-year-old Cody Fox and 9-month-old Ariana Fox, both of Marion County, Tennessee.

Multiple people were also injured.

Meanwhile, a 24-year-old man and a 3-year-old boy were killed when a tree fell on their house just outside the Tuscaloosa city limits Saturday, Capt. Marty Sellers of the Tuscaloosa Violent Crimes Unit told The Tuscaloosa News.

The deaths occurred as drenching rains pelted northern Alabama and Georgia late Saturday. As much as 12 inches (30 centimeters) of rain was reported earlier from Claudette along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

"This is the worst tragedy I ve been a part of in my life," said Smith, who was driving Sunday to Camp Hill to talk to the remaining residents, who had returned from Gulf Shores in a separate van and did not see the wreck.

"Words cannot explain what I saw," Smith said of the accident site, which he visited Saturday. "We love these girls like they re our own children."

Garlock said the location of the wreck is "notorious" for hydroplaning, as the northbound highway curves down a hill to a small creek. Traffic on that stretch of I-65 is usually filled with vacationers driving to and from Gulf of Mexico beaches on summer weekends.
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