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The death toll has increased again after a fast and ferocious tornado Sunday

Search efforts are underway to find the missing.

LEE COUNTY, Ala. — The death toll related to strong storms that pummeled the southeast has climbed again to nearly two dozen.

23 people are dead, according to Lee County.

The fatalities happened near Beauregard, Alabama in Lee County, just across the state line from Columbus, Georgia. Family members told WSFA among the dead is an 8-year-old girl.

Emergency officials will be back assessing the damage when the sun comes up. Drones flying overheard equipped with heat-seeking devices had scanned the area for survivors but the dangerous conditions halted the search late Sunday, Jones said. "The devastation is incredible," Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones told WRBL-TV.  An intense ground search would resume Monday morning. 

Video from along Lee Road showed whole swaths of trees snapped. 

A line of strong thunderstorms moved into the state Sunday afternoon ahead of a front bringing cold temperatures. The system triggered a slew of tornado warnings in the south metro Atlanta area, as well as central Georgia. 

The strong storms left damage behind - from a lightning fire at a Buford, Georgia home to another home blown over in Peach County.

The National Weather Service confirmed late Sunday a tornado with at least an F3 rating and a track at least half a mile (.8 kilometers) wide caused the deadly destruction in Alabama. Although the statement did not give exact wind estimates, F3 storms typically are gauged at wind speeds of between 158-206 mph (254-331 kilometers per hour). 

No deaths had been reported Sunday evening from storm-damaged Alabama counties outside Lee County, said Gregory Robinson, spokesman for the Alabama Emergency Management Agency. But he said crews were still surveying damage in several counties in the southwestern part of the state.

MORE: Severe weather spawns multiple, likely tornadoes across Georgia, southeast

The Associated Press contributed to this story.