Tornadoes Tear Across Midwest, Killing at Least 5 in Illinois

A fast-moving storm moved to Midwest, killing at least five people and smashing homes, authorities reports.

At least five people were killed Sunday as massive tornado left dozens more injured across the Midwest, officials say, fearing that the number of deaths may drastically increase. Photo: Kevin Palmer/Flickr

The severe storm cause tornadoes in Bone Gap and Miller City, Illinois, in Mount Carmel, Noblesville and Vincennes in Indiana, and in Paducah, Kentucky, the National Weather Service reports.

The agency’s survey team confirmed preliminary EF-4 damage in Washington County in southern Illinois, with winds of 166 to 200 miles per hour.

A small farmhouse there took a direct hit: “The homestead was totally destroyed with only the foundation remaining,” the NWS survey team’s report said.

According to estimates, the stoem gave birth up to 80 tornadoes. From over the region authorities were receiving hudreds of reports of damaging winds and 40 reports of large hail, says Rich Thompson, a lead forecaster with the weather service’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.

The speed of the powerful storm was fast, tracking eastward at 60 miles per hour and the forecaster said the bulk of the tornado damage from the storm occurred over a period of about five hours, Reuters writes.

“We’ll still have a wind damage threat across Pennsylvania and New York into the overnight hours,” Thompson said late on Sunday.

The city of Washington, Illinois, 145 miles southwest of Chicago, appeared to be the tornadoes’ target, as the storm had ripped through Indiana and Kentucky as well as Illinois and a small corner of Ohio.

“It’s a sad day in Washington. The devastation is just unbelievable,” said Washington Mayor Gary Manier.

“I can’t imagine people walked away from these places. Some people were sitting in their living rooms. They stayed but their house left,” Manier added.

Washington Mayor Manier went on, saying that hundreds of homes had been destroyed in the town of 15,000 people.

“It wiped out homes, mobile homes,” said Charles Taylor, deputy director of the Emergency Services and Disaster Agency in Massac County. “It downed trees, power lines. We have gas leaks, numerous injuries whether they were in mobile homes, or outdoors, even in the motor vehicles, people have been trapped.”

“We have reports of homes being flattened, roofs being torn off,” Sara Sparkman, a spokeswoman for the health department of Tazewell County, Illinois, where Washington is located, said in a telephone interview. “We have actual whole neighborhoods being demolished by the storm.”

The state Emergency Management Agency reported that the disaster killed one person in Washington. Thirty-one people injured were being treated at St. Francis Medical Center, according to hospital spokeswoman Amy Paul.

The storm took lives of two people in Washington County, Illinois, which is situated about 200 miles south of Peoria, reported Illinois Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Patti Thompson.

The agency has already estimated that hundreds of homes were smashed by the tornadoes and at least 70 leveled across the state.

Washington County coroner Mark Styninger said the two people who died there were the 80-year-old man and his 78-year-old sister who died of massive trauma they got when their home was demolished in the storm, Styninger said.

Two people were killed in Massac County, Illinois, on the Kentucky border where a twister devastated several neighborhoods, emergency officials said.

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