Deadly tornadoes ravage the US Midwest

2013-11-18 09:00
Firefighters search a heavily damaged home after a tornado struck in Washington, Illinois. (Tasos Katopodis, AFP)

Firefighters search a heavily damaged home after a tornado struck in Washington, Illinois. (Tasos Katopodis, AFP)

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Chicago - At least three people were killed and dozens more injured as severe storms and violent tornadoes battered the US Midwest on Sunday.

Flights were grounded and thousands of homes were without electricity as intense winds overturned cars, uprooted large trees and snapped power lines.

At least two people were killed in the small town of New Minden, Washington County Coroner Mark Styninger told AFP.

Joseph Hoy, aged 80, was found dead on his farm while his 78-year-old sister Frances was pronounced dead in hospital.

"Mr Hoy appears to have died instantly from massive trauma. He was located in a farm field approximately 91m from the farm," Styninger said.

"It just happened so fast," added the coroner, who lives just 2km from the Hoy farm.

"We were sitting just two miles from where this happened. These were so fast and this old man and woman were just sitting in their home."

Caution

A third victim died in the city of Washington.

Local television reported at least 37 people were being treated by a medical centre in Illinois, seven of them with "severe" injuries.

"It's not entirely over, we want to make sure that everybody stays safe," said Illinois Emergency Management Agency chief Jonathon Monken on CNN, adding that he expected the number of wounded to climb "significantly".

"The most important thing is to remind people to stay indoors. Stay away from windows and, at this point, just make sure that you're paying close attention to the news, you're watching the weather and you're staying aware of what can happen."

Monken said 70 homes were completely destroyed in two different areas, and hundreds were damaged less severely. Four Red Cross shelters have been opened in the affected zone.

The dangerous weather caused the National Football League to suspend a game in Chicago, asking fans and players to take cover in the stadium. The game resumed almost two hours later.

Some homes were flattened, leaving piles of rubble in central Illinois, while others had their roofs and siding blown off. The windows were blown out of some shops.

In Indiana, local media reported damage to commercial buildings, including a destroyed bank branch.

More than 64 600 homes lost power, according to Duke Energy. In the metropolitan area of the state capital Indianapolis, Indianapolis Power & Light reported nearly 16 000 without power.


Read more on:    red cross  |  us  |  weather  |  natural disasters

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