Deadly Nebraska tornado swarm kills two and injures 'dozens' as state of emergency declared

Rare massive dual twisters flattened the whole of Pilger, a small town in the north-east of the state

A deadly super-cell thunderstorm system bringing a swarm of tornadoes has ripped through towns and villages in north-east Nebraska, US, killing a five-year-old and a motorist and injuring dozens of people.

A state of emergency has been declared by Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman, as officials announced that the small town of Pilger was simply “gone” in the wake of the storm.

The Stanton County Sheriff's office said two people had been confirmed dead, a five-year-old girl and a man driving in nearby Cuming County.

Local hospitals in Norfolk and Wayne reported 19 patients from the Pilger storm between them, while according to the Omaha World Herald nine more victims from the storms were treated at three other area hospitals.

Extraordinary video footage captured by storm chasers showed two massive tornadoes, very close to each other, tearing across farmland near the larger town of Stanton.

The National Weather Service said the twisters touched down within roughly a mile (1.6km) of each other, and that it was extremely rare for two such powerful tornadoes to hit at the same time and place.

Experts said they appeared to be class EF-2 or EF-3 – meaning they brought winds of up to 165 mph (265 kph).

 

Authorities said the first tornado touched down around 3.45pm local time and brought down several power lines before flattening a farmhouse. Four people were trapped inside.

While local crews removed them from the debris, a second tornado was spotted south-west of Pilger, the Stanton County Sheriff's Office told reporters.

Read more:
Skycraper-sized Great Walls of America 'could stop tornadoes'
Arkansas tornadoes kill 17 tearing through heart of America
North Dakota tornado filmed by oil workers as it destroys camp

Shortly afterwards, the town suffered a “direct hit”, the sheriff’s office said, which levelled several buildings including a fire station and a school.

“Pilger is gone,” said Sanford Goshorn, director of emergency management for Stanton County. “The tornado cut right through the centre of town.” He added that electricity, water and sewage services were all completely knocked out.

Weather officials said a number of additional tornadoes or funnel clouds were detected in central Nebraska, behind the first wave of storms that appeared to dissipate as it moved eastward. The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency received reports of injuries and damage throughout Stanton, Cuming and Wayne counties, spokeswoman Jodie Fawl said.

Faced with a landscape littered with crushed vehicles and a vast area where “almost every house” has reported at least some damage, the National Guard has been called in to assist local emergency responders and help with the clean-up.

Tim Nelson searches for survivors in Pilger, Nebraska after the tornadoes hit Tim Nelson searches for survivors in Pilger, Nebraska after the tornadoes hit What was left of Pilger was evacuated last night, and state police closed roads into town to all but emergency vehicles. More than a dozen residents were given shelter at a high school in the nearby town of Wisner.

Officials will not know the full scale of the intensity of the storms until after crews have been able to examine the area, said Barbara Mayes, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Valley.

But Ms Mayes said the dual tornadoes represented an exceptional weather event because both appeared to have roughly the same strength. In most cases, she said, one tornado tends to be larger and more powerful than the other, and the bigger cyclone grows stronger as the smaller one weakens.

“It's less common for two tornadoes to track together for so long, especially with that same intensity,” she said. “By no means is it unprecedented. But we don't see it often.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Buddy DeFranco
people
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
filmIdris Elba responds to James Bond rumours on Twitter
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones
film
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones