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Published on : Monday, November 18, 2013
Massive thunderstorms and tornadoes swept through parts of 12 states Sunday, killing at least six people in Illinois and levelling neighbourhoods across the Midwest. The central Illinois community of Washington, about 140 miles southwest of Chicago, appeared particularly hard-hit. With communications difficult and many roads impassable, it remained unclear how many people might be hurt or whether the death toll would continue to climb.
The wave of thunderstorms that brought the damaging wind and tornadoes affected 12 states in all: Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and western New York.State Trooper Dustin Pierce told the Associated Press that the tornado cut a path about an eighth of a mile wide from one side of town to the other.
“Literally, neighbourhoods are completely wiped out,” Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., who said he was in Washington, told Fox News. “I’m looking at subdivisions of 20 to 30 homes and there’s not a home there. The entire town of Washington is devastated.”
Schock said the town has called for physicians and nurses from surrounding areas after a tornado swept through the town midday.“Many of these people thankfully took shelter in their basements but some of them didn’t and so there are some folks needing medical assistance and they have been finding them through the rubbish,” he told Fox News.
Firefighters were going house to house in Washington Sunday night to look for people who may be trapped. The Illinois National Guard is also dispatching 10 firefighters to Washington to search for survivors.
By nightfall, Trooper Pierce said there were reports of looting in Washington.
Candi Cross, the mayor of New Minden, told Fox News that residents in the town are volunteering to take in others whose homes have been damaged. “Everybody has a place to go to tonight,” she said.
According to the National Weather Services’ website, a total of 65 tornadoes had struck, the bulk of them in Illinois. But meteorologist Matt Friedlein said the total might fall because emergency workers, tornado spotters and others often report the same tornado.
In Chicago, storms raced through the downtown area so powerfully that the rain was not falling as much as it was slamming into the sides of buildings. There were no confirmed reports of injuries. Heavy rain, high winds, and lightning delayed the NFL game between the Chicago Bears and Baltimore Ravens for around two hours while fans evacuated the stands.