Search and rescue efforts are under way after one of the deadliest tornadoes to have ever hit the US state of Mississippi.

At least 24 people have died following Friday night's tornado, with more thought to be trapped under the rubble of destroyed buildings.

The twister caused devastation in several rural towns, tearing down trees and power lines.

Several southern states are also braced for powerful storms.

The storm system which ripped through Mississippi produced a tornado that has caused catastrophic damage to communities across the state. The biggest twister obliterated dozens of buildings in several small towns, flipping cars on their sides and toppling power lines.

One of those small towns, Rolling Fork, located in Sharkey County in western Mississippi, has essentially been wiped out, according to its mayor.

"My city is gone," Mayor Eldridge Walker told CNN. "But we're resilient and we're going to come back."

He added that lots of families in his community were "affected and hurting", and all he could see was "devastation".

Rolling Fork residents said windows were blown out of the back of their homes.

Local resident Brandy Showah told CNN: "I've never seen anything like this... This was a very great small town, and now it's gone."