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At least 6 dead as tornadoes hit Midwest

By Agencies in Washington, Illinois | China Daily | Updated: 2013-11-19 07:02

A fast-moving storm system triggered multiple tornadoes on Sunday 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.

An elderly man and his sister were killed when a tornado hit their home, said coroner Mark Styninger.

With communications difficult and many roads impassable, it remained unclear how many people were killed or hurt.

"The whole neighborhood's gone. The wall of my fireplace is all that is left of my house," said Michael Perdun, speaking by phone from the hard-hit town of Washington.

Local official Tyler Gee told WLS-TV that as he walked through neighborhoods immediately after the tornado struck, he "couldn't even tell what street I was on".

"Just completely flattened - some of the neighborhoods here in town, hundreds of homes."

State Police Trooper Dustin Pierce said the tornado cut a path from one end of the rural community of 16,000 to the other, knocking down power lines, uprooting trees and rupturing gas lines.

The National Weather Service confirmed preliminary EF-4 tornado damage in Washington County in southern Illinois, with winds of 267-322 km/h. The unusual late-season storms moved dangerously fast, tracking east at 97 km/h, with the bulk of the damage spanning about five hours, Thompson said. Wind damage threats continued across Pennsylvania and New York.

The town of Washington, 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.


 At least 6 dead as tornadoes hit Midwest

A resident of Washington, Illinois, surveys the damage to her home and neighbors after a tornado and severe thunderstorms swept through a portion of the town on Sunday. Ron Johnson / Peoria Journal Star via Associated Press

(China Daily 11/19/2013 page11)

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