Two people were killed and dozens of people injured after a tornado ripped through the Arkansas capital of Little Rock and surrounding US towns on Friday afternoon.
Elsewhere, a third person died after a theatre roof collapsed in Belvidere, Illinois, during another tornado with 28 people injured as the Midwest struggles with intense and destructive storms.
The collapse happened during a heavy metal concert at the Apollo Theatre in Belvidere, which is about 70 miles northwest of Chicago.
The governor of Arkansas, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, confirmed that two people had died in the twister with several other people reported to be trapped in the destruction.
The tornado also caused widespread wreckage of homes, overturned cars and uprooted trees.
The total number of people injured is unknown. Around 90,000 customers experienced electricity outages in the state.
The mayor of Little Rock, Frank Scott Jr, said on Twitter: “At this time, we know of 24 people who have been hospitalised at Little Rock hospitals and we are not aware of any fatalities in Little Rock.”
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The Baptist Health Medical Centre in the adjoining town of North Little Rock separately reported it was treating 11 patients from the storm, with one in a critical condition.
Other towns further away from Little Rock have also reported mass destruction and injuries.
Richard Dennis, the police chief in the town of Wynne – around 100 miles east of Little Rock, told a local television station there was “total destruction throughout the town” with dozens of people trapped.
The twister was caused by one of several violent thunderstorms that have battered the south and Midwest regions of the US – home to some 85 million people.
The destructive storm system has also caused other tornados in Iowa, damaging hail in Illinois and wind-whipped grass fires in Oklahoma.
People were urged to evacuate in parts of Oklahoma City to escape the fires.
Meteorologists are forecasting another batch of intense storms next Tuesday in the same large area.
The fatal tornado came as President Joe Biden toured the aftermath of another deadly tornado that struck Mississippi a week ago. It killed at least 21 people and damaged around 2,000 homes.
Image: US President Joe Biden visited Mississippi where a tornado killed 21 people last week
Governor Huckabee Sanders activated 100 members of the Arkansas National Guard to help local authorities respond to the damage throughout the state.
“Praying for all those who were and remain in the path of this storm,” Ms Hucakabee Sanders, who declared a state of emergency, said on Twitter.
“Arkansans must continue to stay weather aware as storms are continuing to move through.”
In Little Rock, local Niki Scott took cover in the bathroom after her husband called to say a tornado was headed her way.
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The aftermath of last week’s tornado in Mississippi
She could hear glass shattering as the tornado roared past, and emerged afterward to find that her house was one of the few on her street that didn’t have a tree fall on it.
“It’s just like everyone says. It got really quiet, then it got really loud,” Ms Scott said afterward, as chainsaws roared and sirens blared in the area.
Source : Sky News