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Tornadoes wreak havoc across Midwest

SHERRYLYN CLARKE, [email protected]

Tornadoes wreak havoc across Midwest

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WASHINGTON, Illinois (AP) – Dozens of tornadoes and intense thunderstorms swept across the Midwest today, unleashing powerful winds that flattened entire neighbourhoods, flipping over cars, uprooting trees and leaving at least five people dead.
Illinois took the brunt of the fury as the string of unusually powerful late-season tornadoes tore across the state, injuring dozens and even prompting officials at Chicago’s Soldier Field to evacuate the stands and delay the Bears American football game.
“The whole neighbourhood’s gone. The wall of my fireplace is all that is left of my house,” said Michael Perdun, speaking by cellphone from the hard-hit central Illinois town of Washington, where he said his neighbourhood was wiped out in a matter of seconds.
“I stepped outside and I heard it coming. My daughter was already in the basement, so I ran downstairs and grabbed her, crouched in the laundry room and all of a sudden I could see daylight up the stairway and my house was gone.”
An elderly man and his sister were killed when a tornado hit their home in the rural southern Illinois community of New Minden, said coroner Mark Styninger. A third person died in Washington, while two others perished in Massac county in the far southern part of the state, said Patti Thompson of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. She did not provide details.
With communications difficult and many roads impassable, it remained unclear how many people were killed or hurt. The Illinois National Guard said it had dispatched ten firefighters and three vehicles to Washington to assist with immediate search and recovery operations.
In the rural community of 16 000, whole blocks of houses were erased from the landscape and Illinois State Police Trooper Dustin Pierce said the tornado cut a path from one end of town to the other, knocking down power lines, uprooting trees and rupturing gas lines.