Officials confirmed that majority of deaths were in Indiana and that the town of Marysville was “completely gone” following the tornado outbreak. In the state’s Henryville area, the severe storm caused extensive damage to a high school, but only minor injuries were reported.
“We are no match for Mother Nature at her worst,” Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels said, adding that he planned to visit the stricken southeast corner of the state on Saturday.
As The Telegraph writes, there also was heavy damage near Louisville, Kentucky, where another tornado touched down on Friday evening.
In Henryville the high school was damaged and the second floor had been ripped off the middle school next door.
“It broke to pieces. The wheels came off, the seats were broken,” the witness says. “I had to walk in school, and the whole school fell down.”
Jenn Helvering, 24, says she saw a storm cell cross the highway as she drove towards Henryville. She then came across wreckage, including an overturned tractor-trailer, alongside the road near the town.
“The weather was terrible. I suddenly saw a tornado coming towards me, I could see it swirling, then I saw one behind me,” the woman said. “I was stuck in between two tornadoes – my dad directed me while I was driving between the two tornadoes. It was truly terrifying.”
The second wave of tornadoes comes two days after an earlier round of storms killed 13 people in the Midwest and South.
“It just hit all at once,” said Blaine Lawson, 76, in Cleveland, Tennessee. “Didn’t have no warning really. The roof, insulation and everything started coming down on us. It just happened so fast that I didn’t know what to do. I was going to head to the closet but there was just no way. It just got us.”
According to the National Weather Service regional office, about 34 million people were at risk of stormy weather.
“This is a particularly dangerous situation,” the national weather service previously warned. “Destructive tornadoes, large hail to 2.5 inches, thunderstorm wind gusts to 70 miles per hour and dangerous lightening are possible.”
“Then the gates of hell opened up,” an emergency services call dispatcher told reporters.
The town of Marysville, with the population of 2,000 people, was reported to be nearly flattened.
“We’ve had a few tornadoes come through the area, but this is the worst one we’ve seen,” said Maj Adams, who has lived in the area.
“We’ve got total devastation in the north-central part of the county [and] widespread damage from the west to the east,” Clark County Sheriff Clark Adam told reporters.
There are fears that the death toll may rise as the scale of the devastation and the breadth of the storms made immediate assessments of the destruction difficult, says BBC.
“We may not be done yet,” confirmed John Hart, a meteorologist at the Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.