At least 26 dead and dozens injured as tornadoes tear across South and Midwest

‘It just came out of nowhere’

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Sunday 02 April 2023 13:28 BST
Tornado tears across Little Rock, Arkansas

At least 26 people were killed and dozens injured as tornadoes swept across the US Midwest and South on Friday.

In the last 24 hours, according to ABC News, there were reports of 57 twisters in seven different states, with the worst damage in Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois.

The most deaths were clustered in Arkansas, where tornadoes touched down in the cities of Wynne and North Little Rock, killing five.

Little Rock mayor Frank Scott told CNN the “impact is devastating,” with more than 30,000 without power.

“Literally, in a matter of minutes, it went through the entire western portion of the city of Little Rock … It just came out of nowhere,” he said.

Arkansas governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders declared a state of emergency and stated on Twitter, “We will spare no resource to assist with response and recovery efforts for Arkansans impacted.”

Residents of Wynne described a city in disarray.

“I’m in a panic trying to get home, but we can’t get home,” Wynne City Council member Lisa Powell Carter said on Friday. “Wynne is so demolished. ... There’s houses destroyed, trees down on streets.”

In Illinois, the severe weather caused the roof of the Apollo Theatre in Belvidere to collapse, injuring 28 and killing one person in a scene Belvidere police chief Shane Woody called “absolute chaos.”

“I was there within a minute before it came down,” Gabrielle Lewellyn told WTVO-TV of the experience. “The winds, when I was walking up to the building, it went like from zero to a thousand within five seconds.”

Elsewhere, three people were killed near Sullivan, Indiana; one died in Alabama; and one died in Mississippi, according to officials.

As of Saturday morning, about 70 million people remain under slight risk of severe weather in parts of the Ohio Valley and the Northeast, including New York City, Philadelphia, and parts of the Southeast, according to the NOAA Storm Prediction Center.

The battering weather comes just a week after another round of tornadoes ripped through Mississippi and Alabama, killing 26.

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