Severe storms and violent tornadoes killed at least one person as they battered the US Midwest, with powerful twisters laying great waste in central Illinois.
At least one person was killed near the city of Washington in the first known fatality from the storms, Patti Thompson of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency told CNN.
At least 37 people were being treated at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria, Illinois, seven of them with “severe” injuries, local NBC television affiliate News 25 reported.
The dangerous weather also caused the National Football League to suspend a game in Chicago partway through, asking fans and players to take cover in the stadium.
CNN said the National Weather Service had confirmed nearly 50 tornadoes had been reported.
A panoramic photo from a newscaster in central Illinois, posted to her Twitter account, showed an intersection reduced to piles of rubble.
“Absolute destruction,” Alexandra Sutter, a news reporter for WMBD31, wrote of what she could see.
Her station was off the air this morning, posting on its website that the studio of the Fox affiliate “has taken a power hit to its transmitter and has no signal.”
A tree was pulled out of the ground by the roots, collapsing onto a house after a tornado left a path of devastation through the north end of Pekin, Illinois. Photo / AP
A photo posted to the station’s Facebook page showed someone holding a tennis ball-sized piece of hail.
A local news report from nearby Washington, Illinois spoke of two tornadoes damaging that town and the town of Pekin, with an apartment complex and several homes damaged or destroyed.
There are early reports of some injuries, but information remains scant.
The National Weather Service warned of a “particularly dangerous situation” for parts of the central United States, with tornado watches in seven states from Missouri to Michigan.
“Several rapidly-moving, intense tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, large hail events and damaging winds are expected in these watch areas,” the US weather service said.
“A High or Moderate Risk of severe weather is in effect for most of the Upper Midwest and Ohio Valley,” it added.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Bears and Baltimore Ravens were recalled to their lockers rooms in Chicago with less than five minutes remaining in the first quarter due to the severe weather.
The delay was expected to last just under two hours, with the Ravens tweeting the game was set to resume no earlier than 3:25 pm eastern time (9.25pm NZT).
– Pictures and copy: NZ Herald, AFP