Daily Briefing: Devastation after Mississippi tornadoes

·5 min read

Search and recovery efforts resumed Sunday after a tornado displaced hundreds of people in Rolling Fork, Mississippi. Also in the news: Officials are investing the cause of a deadly explosion at an eastern Pennsylvania chocolate factory. The U.S. has not detected movement of nuclear weapons to Belarus despite Russia's promise to move arms to the country.

🙋🏼‍♀️ I'm Nicole Fallert, Daily Briefing author. Trying to keep up your 2023 reading goals? Try these audiobooks this month.

Now, here we go with Monday's news.

A trail of destruction in Mississippi

Rolling Fork Mayor Eldridge Walker has been able to offer comfort to the people of his Mississippi city, the hardest hit of the towns from Friday's deadly tornado that claimed at least 25 lives across the state.

The violent storm swept northeastward Friday night across much of Mississippi and Alabama. Storm reports and radar data show the tornado was on the ground for more than an hour, something experts say is extremely rare.

  • Residents say the skyline they grew up seeing in Rolling Fork is unrecognizable after buildings were completely flattened.

  • ''Rolling Fork will come back bigger and better'': The mayor, who is also the town's funeral director, is leading residents toward recovery amid the devastation.

  • Survival story: As tornadoes descended, owners and employees at a Rolling Fork diner survived severe winds by sheltering together in the restaurant's walk-in refrigerator. The rest of the restaurant was completely destroyed, photos show.

Debris covers the ground from a diner, Chuck’s dairy bar early Saturday, March 25, 2023, in Rolling Fork, Mississippi.
Debris covers the ground from a diner, Chuck’s dairy bar early Saturday, March 25, 2023, in Rolling Fork, Mississippi.

Cause of explosion at Pennsylvania chocolate factory unknown

The death toll rose to seven after more bodies were found Sunday after authorities searched the site of a massive explosion in a small town at an eastern Pennsylvania chocolate factory. West Reading Borough Chief of Police Wayne Holben said the explosion took place just before 5 p.m. Friday at the R.M. Palmer Co. plant in West Reading. Officials are investigating what caused the explosion at the plant about 60 miles northwest of Philadelphia. Here's what else we know.

More news to know now

What's the weather today? Check your local forecast here.

Israel's Netanyahu fires minister opposed to controversial reforms

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday fired his defense minister after the high-ranking official called for a pause on a controversial judicial reform proposal that has fueled months of intense protests in the country and abroad. In response, floods of protesters took to the streets, starting bonfires on a Tel Aviv highway and knocking down a police barricade outside Netanyahu's home. Demonstrations have swept across Israel for months over an effort by Netanyahu's right-wing government to overhaul the country’s judicial system. But Netanyahu's sudden ousting of the high-level minister who opposed the changes prompted the Biden administration to issue an unusual statement of concern. Read more

Israelis protest moments after the Israeli leader fired his defense minister, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Sunday, March 26, 2023.
Israelis protest moments after the Israeli leader fired his defense minister, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Sunday, March 26, 2023.

Putin says Russia will station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus

The U.S. has detected no movement of Russian nuclear weapons toward Belarus despite Russian President Vladimir Putin's pledge to place them in the country by July 1, a top U.S. security official said Sunday. Putin announced plans on Saturday to station tactical nuclear weapons in neighboring Belarus, a warning to the West as it steps up military support for Ukraine. Putin said he was responding to Britain’s decision this past week to provide Ukraine with armor-piercing rounds containing depleted uranium. Russia falsely claimed these rounds have nuclear components. Belarus shares borders with three NATO members: Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. Read more 

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Caitlin Clark is perfect player at perfect time for women's basketball

To get an idea of just how intoxicating Caitlin Clark’s game is, all you had to do Sunday — if you weren’t near a TV to watch her pile up 41 points, hand out 12 assists and grab 10 rebounds — was scroll Twitter. In sum: she’s the superstar women’s basketball needs, right when the game needs it. Women’s basketball is exploding in popularity across the country, as parity rises across college hoops and the WNBA forms super teams through free agency. And people are paying attention. Read more

Caitlin Clark celebrates during Iowa's Elite Eight win against Louisville.
Caitlin Clark celebrates during Iowa's Elite Eight win against Louisville.

One more thing

Photo of the day: 'The Joker' filming in NYC

Lady Gaga was spotted while filming for the "Joker" sequel in New York City Sunday in which she will star alongside Joaquin Phoenix's Joker. Photos show the actress and singer surrounded by a squadron of police officers and protesters who held signs reading "Free Joker." Crews for the “The Joker” sequel have been facing the possibility that filming in New York could be disrupted as prosecutors consider a real-life indictment against former President Donald Trump, who has invited followers to rally on his behalf. The Trump protests have not materialized so far. Read more

Lady Gaga performs during the shooting of the movie "Joker: Folie à Deux" in New York on March 25, 2023.
Lady Gaga performs during the shooting of the movie "Joker: Folie à Deux" in New York on March 25, 2023.

Nicole Fallert is a newsletter writer at USA TODAY, sign up for the email here. Want to send Nicole a note? Shoot her an email at NFallert@usatoday.com or follow along with her musings on Twitter. Support journalism like this – subscribe to USA TODAY here.

Associated Press contributed reporting.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Mississippi tornadoes, Pennsylvania explosion, Belarus, Russia, Israel, Caitlin Clark: Daily Briefing