Powerful tornado barrels into path of 960 buildings in Kansas

‘Direct tornado strike’ began in Sedgwick County before travelling into Andover, flattening buildings in its path

Rachel Sharp
Saturday 30 April 2022 14:58 BST
A firefighter searches a home in Andover on Friday night after a tornado ripped through the area
A firefighter searches a home in Andover on Friday night after a tornado ripped through the area (AP)
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A powerful tornado tore through the Wichita area of Kansas on Friday night, barreling into the path of almost 1,000 buildings, injuring several residents and leaving thousands without power.

The “direct tornado strike” began in Sedgwick County before travelling into Andover, flattening dozens of structures on its way, officials said at an early morning press conference on Saturday.

Emergency responders are still working to determine the extent of the damage but around 960 buildings are known to have been in the tornado’s path.

Andover Fire Chief Chad Russell said that so far they had counted around 50 to 100 damaged buildings in Sedgwick County with some homes “completely blown away” by the twister.

“We had many buildings in Andover take very tough damage,” he added.

No fatalities have been reported and Chief Russell expressed relief that all residents have been accounted for, with only a relatively small number of injuries reported.

Among the wounded are three people in Sedgwick County, including one woman who suffered serious injuries, he said.

Over 20,000 homes and businesses across Kansas had been plunged into darkness as the power went out in the immediate aftermath of the tornado.

As of 9am ET Saturday, it had been largely restored with only around 1,900 homes still without power, according to power outage.us, as residents now turn to the long recovery process.

National Weather Service Wichita said that it was sending out teams to survey the damage on Saturday morning as it expressed its “thoughts and prayers” to everyone affected.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to those impacted by tornadoes this evening,” the agency tweeted.

“In order to determine the strength of these tornadoes, we we will be sending out a few teams Saturday morning to conduct damage surveys.”

A video posted on social media showed the huge twister travelling through the state with debris flying through the air and panicked residents urging people to take shelter.

Images of the aftermath revealed cars flipped over in the roads and homes destroyed as emergency responders searched for anyone injured in the rubble.

The severe weather prompted Kansas Governor Laura Kelly to issue a state of emergency in the state at around 9pm on Friday night, saying “we can’t wait for the storm to hit before we respond”.

“By taking these steps early, we are able to more quickly react when the counties ask for assistance,” she said.

By that time, severe storms had already downed power lines and damaged buildings across several counties.

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