US weather officials said an outbreak of tornadoes occurred on Sunday afternoon across a wide area of the southeast as severe storms crossed the region.
The severe weather destroyed and damaged multiple homes and businesses, snapped trees and left a trial of destruction and weather warnings extending into Georgia, Florida and South Carolina.
Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones said at least 14 deaths had been confirmed in his community and some others were reported missing.
He said several people had been taken to hospital, “some of them with very serious injuries”.
Mr Jones said the damage followed a path several miles long and up to a quarter of a mile wide.
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey said the state was working to help families who had been impacted.
“Our hearts go out to those who lost their lives in the storms that hit Lee County today,” Ms Ivey wrote on Twitter.
“Praying for their families & everyone whose homes or businesses were affected.”