Monday 24 November 2014

At least six killed as tornadoes batter the US

Published 18/11/2013 | 06:14

Extensive damage to homes and vehicles is pictured in the aftermath of a tornado that touched down in Washington, Illinois November 17, 2013, in this photo courtesy of Anthony Khoury
Extensive damage to homes in a neighborhood is pictured in the aftermath of a tornado that touched down in Washington, Illinois November 17, 2013, in this photo courtesy of Anthony Khoury
Extensive damage to homes and vehicles is pictured in the aftermath of tornado that touched down in Washington, Illinois November 17, 2013, in this photo courtesy of Anthony Khoury
Extensive damage to homes and vehicles is pictured in the aftermath of a tornado that touched down in Washington, Illinois on November 17, 2013 in this photo courtesy of Anthony Khoury
Extensive damage is pictured in the aftermath of a tornado that touched down in Washington, Illinois on November 17, 2013 in this photo courtesy of Anthony Khoury
Tornado damage in Washington Illinois can be seen in this handout picture courtesy of Alexandra Sutter/WMBD.com taken November 17, 2013
Tornado damage in Washington Illinois can be seen in this handout picture courtesy of Alexandra Sutter/WMBD.com taken November 17, 2013
A vehicle sits on a pile of debris from the destruction caused by a tornado that touched down in Washington, Illinois, November 17, 2013
Tornado damage in Washington Illinois can be seen in this handout picture courtesy of Alexandra Sutter/WMBD.com taken November 17, 2013
A man walks through a damaged home in Gifford, Ill. on Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013. Intense thunderstorms and tornadoes swept across the Midwest, causing extensive damage in several central Illinois communities while sending people to their basements for shelter
Richard Miller of Washington, Illinois salvages items from his brothers home, after a tornado leveled a subdivision on the North side of Washington, Ill., Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013
An active tornado is seen through a window as it touches down in Washington, Illinois on November 17, 2013, in this combination of three still images captured from a video courtesy of Anthony Khoury
An active tornado is seen through a window as it touches down in Washington, Illinois on November 17, 2013, in this still image captured from a video courtesy of Anthony Khoury
A tree was pulled out of the ground by the roots, collapsing onto a house after a tornado left a path of devastation through the north end of Pekin, Il.,Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013
An active tornado is seen through a window as it touches down in Washington, Illinois on November 17, 2013, in this still image captured from a video courtesy of Anthony Khoury
An active tornado is seen through a window as it touches down in Washington, Illinois on November 17, 2013, in this still image captured from a video courtesy of Anthony Khoury. A fast-moving storm system spawned multiple tornadoes in Illinois and Indiana, threatening some 53 million people across 10 Midwestern states on Sunday, U.S. weather officials said. Washington, Illinois is located 145 miles (233 km) southwest of Chicago
Josh Ramsey recovers items from a house of a family friend after a tornado left a path of devastation through the north end of Pekin, Ill., hitting right about noon Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013. Intense thunderstorms and tornadoes swept across the Midwest on Sunday, causing extensive damage in several central Illinois communities while sending people to their basements for shelter
A Washington firefighter peers into the home of a fellow firefighter whose home was destroyed when a tornado swept through Washington, Ill., Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013
Extensive damage to homes in a neighborhood is pictured in the aftermath of a tornado that touched down in Washington, Illinois November 17, 2013, in this photo courtesy of Anthony Khoury
Tornado damage in Washington Illinois can be seen in this handout picture courtesy of Alexandra Sutter/WMBD.com taken November 17, 2013.
A Washington firefighter peers into the home of a fellow firefighter whose home was destroyed when a tornado swept through Washington, Ill., Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013. (AP Photo/Journal Star, David Zalaznik) MANDATORY CREDIT
Extensive damage to homes in a neighborhood is pictured in the aftermath of a tornado that touched down in Washington, Illinois
An active tornado is seen through a window as it touches down in Washington, Illinois
Josh Ramsey recovers items from a house of a family friend after a tornado left a path of devastation through the north end of Pekin, Illinois.

A fast-moving storm system triggered multiple tornadoes last night that killed at least six people and flattened large parts of a town in Illinois as it tore across the Midwest, authorities said.

The tornadoes leveled scores of homes and demolished entire neighborhoods. Some 80 tornado reports were received, along with 358 reports of damaging winds and 40 reports of large hail, according to Rich Thompson, a lead forecaster with the weather service's Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.

Traffic was halted briefly at Chicago's two major airports, and tens of thousands of people in several states lost power.

By early Monday three people were reported killed in Massac County, two in Washington County and one in the city of Washington, in Tazewell County, said Patti Thompson of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.

The National Weather Service confirmed preliminary EF-4 tornado damage in Washington County in southern Illinois, with winds of 166 to 200 miles (267-322 km) per hour.

The unusual late-season storms moved dangerously fast, tracking east at 60 miles per hour (97 kph), with the bulk of the damage spanning about five hours, Thompson said. Wind damage threats continued across Pennsylvania and New York.

DEVASTATION

The town of Washington, 145 miles (233 km) southwest of Chicago, was hit hard as tornadoes tore through Indiana and Kentucky, Illinois and a small corner of Ohio.

"The devastation is just unbelievable," said Mayor Gary Manier. Hundreds of homes were destroyed, one person was killed and 31 were being treated for injuries in nearby Peoria.

"I can't imagine people walked away from these places," Manier said of the devastation in the town of 15,000.

Two people, an 80-year-old man and his 78-year-old sister, were killed in Washington County, Illinois, about 200 miles (320 km) south of Peoria, County coroner Mark Styninger said.

Three others were killed in Massac County, Illinois, on the Kentucky border where a tornado devastated several neighborhoods, emergency officials said.

Sara Sparkman, a spokeswoman for the Tazewell County, Illinois health department, told Reuters: "We have reports of homes being flattened, roofs being torn off ... We have actual whole neighborhoods being demolished by the storm."

More people were feared trapped in their basements under debris, said Illinois State Police spokeswoman Monique Bond.

The American Red Cross worked with emergency management officials to set up shelters and provide assistance.

The Washington tornado came out of a fast-moving system that originally headed toward Chicago, forcing a delay of a Chicago Bears-Baltimore Ravens NFL game as it threatened a large swath of the Midwest.

Irish Independent

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