ALBANY, Ga -- A large, wedge-shaped tornado struck Albany and Dougherty County on Sunday afternoon.
Several fatalities have been reported, as have a number of injuries, but there was no immediate confirmation on exact numbers from officials early Sunday evening.
The National Weather Service has confirmed the tornado's touchdown.
The National Weather Service issued a Tornado Emergency Sunday afternoon for Dougherty County and Albany. A tornado warning was issued for Dougherty County Sunday afternoon as part of a larger complex of storms that blew through the southern part of the state.
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Striking photos show storm damage in SW Georgia
The Dougherty County Deputy Coroner told Albany NBC station WALB that there were "multiple fatalities" as a result of the storm, but would not give immediate details regarding exact numbers of deceased persons. Injured patients were being treated at facilities in Valdosta, Tifton, Adel and Macon Sunday evening.
Forecasters on NBC station WALB frantically told viewers on the air and online to seek shelter as heavy thunderstorms and tornadoes blew toward the Albany area.
Shortly before 3:30, an updated warning was issued, adding the tornado emergency for Albany, noting that a "large and destructive tornado" was on the ground in the eastern portion of the city of Albany, moving northeastward at 70 mph. They described the threat as "catastrophic" and cautioned people of one-inch hail.
The tornado then reportedly moved across I-75, headed through Crisp and Wilburn counties, and headed toward Wilcox County.
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On WALB, forecasters advised viewers of a life-threatening situation in and just east of the city of Albany. Rain and hail noise could be heard from the station's livestream behind the forecasters. They advised that they might have to go off the air and take shelter, due to the storm near their station.
As the storm moved northeastward, the National Weather Service reported that damage reports were starting to come in from portions of Worth and Crisp counties to the northeast of Albany.
WALB's forecasters cautioned that the storm was headed toward Ashburn, Cordele and Interstate 75.
Facebook had initiated its Safety Check service in the wake of Sunday's storm in and around Albany. Facebook members in the Albany area can mark visit the Safety Check page and mark themselves as "Safe." Additionally, those with friends or relatives in the area may visit the page and ask about the status of those persons.
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