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Deadly tornado strikes US amid severe weather turmoil

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A system of monstrous storms battered the southern and midwestern United States on Friday, unleashing deadly weather including tornadoes that slammed into Arkansas and killed three people, and other severe storms further north in Illinois and Indiana also left three dead, authorities said. .

A tornado hit the state in the afternoon, causing what Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders called “widespread damage.”

Sanders said two people were killed in the town of Wayne in the eastern part of Arkansas, while an official in Pulaski County, which surrounds the capital, Little Rock, confirmed one death there.

“Massive damage has occurred in Central Arkansas,” Sanders wrote on Twitter.

“Approximately 30 individuals have been transported to our local hospitals,” Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. said.

The National Weather Service issued tornado warnings for parts of nearby Tennessee, Illinois, Kentucky, and Iowa.

In the evening, disaster struck Belvedere, Illinois, when severe weather caused the roof and part of the facade of the Apollo Theater to collapse while a heavy metal band was playing on stage inside.

Fox 32, a Chicago affiliate, reported on its website that more than 20 ambulances were called to the scene.

Belvidere Fire Chief Sean Shadel reported that one person was killed and 28 injured in the disaster, with five hospitalized with serious injuries.

Television footage showed emergency personnel carrying injured people from the party on stretchers, while a video posted on social media showed rubble – some nearly waist-high – on the floor of the concert venue, and a hole in the roof.

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker tweeted late in the evening: “My administration is watching closely the roof collapse at the Apollo Theater in Belvedere tonight.”

And in neighboring Midwestern Indiana, two people were confirmed dead after a storm swept through Sullivan County, Indiana State Police told CBS/FOX affiliate WTHI.

Pictures posted on Twitter by WTHI showed collapsed telephone poles, collapsed homes and debris covering roads.

“totally erased”

A tornado hit Arkansas during the afternoon, circling parts of Little Rock.

“This was actually an incredibly destructive hurricane,” witness Lara Farrar told AFP.

She said she drove to West Little Rock and got out of her car at a closed intersection.

“I was basically in complete shock because the neighborhood had been completely wiped out and destroyed,” Farrar said.

Some buildings had their roofs completely blown off.”

She said the tornado’s path was about a quarter of a mile (half a kilometer) wide, leaving extensive damage, but outside the direct path, damage was “very minor”.

“Property damage is extensive and we are still responding,” Scott, the mayor of Little Rock, wrote on Twitter.

Authorities in Pulaski County, surrounding the state capital, said it had suffered “significant damage from the storm and typhoon.”

More than 78,000 people were without power across the state, according to Poweroutage.us.

The governor’s office could not immediately confirm any injuries to AFP, but a local hospital told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that it had already begun taking patients, including a “few” in critical condition.

The newspaper reported that a Baptist Health spokesman said it was preparing to treat injuries.

A University of Arkansas Hospital spokesperson told AFP.

“We haven’t seen people come in yet, but we know the emergency services have had difficulty reaching people because of fallen trees,” the spokesperson said.

“We expect people to come all night.”

Tornadoes are common in the United States, especially in the center and south of the country.

A week ago, a tornado swept through southern Mississippi, killing 25 people and causing extensive property damage.

President Joe Biden visited Rolling Fork on Friday, one of the hardest-hit areas in Mississippi.

In December 2021, about 80 people were killed by tornadoes in Kentucky.

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