At least 21 people died following storms and violent tornadoes which scraped the South and Midwest Friday into early Saturday and millions more people were threatened by more severe weather Saturday afternoon.
Among the victims were four people who were killed in structural collapses in Illinois. Three of the fatalities followed the collapse of a residential structure in Crawford County, said Illinois Emergency Management Agency spokesperson Kevin Sur, while the fourth person died after the roof collapsed at the Apollo Theatre in Belvidere.
In excess of 50 preliminary tornado reports were recorded Friday in at least seven states, including in Arkansas, where storms killed five people, four of those were in the small city of Wynne and another person in North Little Rock, local officials confirmed.
Three people were killed in Indiana by a storm Friday night that damaged homes and a volunteer fire department near Sullivan, a city about a 95-mile drive southwest of Indianapolis, State Police Sgt. Matt Ames said.
In Madison County, Alabama, one person died and five were injured overnight, officials said during a news conference Saturday morning.
In Pontotoc County, Mississippi, one person died and four others were injured, according to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency.
Allen Strickland, the McNairy County, Tennessee, director of emergency management, also confirmed there were seven deaths in the county, which is located in southern Tennessee between Nashville and Memphis.
Approximately 50 people were sent to hospitals in Arkansas’ Pulaski County, where a tornado roared through the Little Rock area Friday, county spokesperson Madeline Roberts said. Five others were hospitalized after a tornado touched down Friday in Covington, Tennessee, according to a spokesperson for Baptist Memorial Health Care. Roads were left unusable.
In Little Rock, “close to 2,600 structures have been impacted,” Mayor Frank Scott Jr. told CNN on Saturday.
At least 2,100 residents in the pathway of the tornado were affected, he said. Neighborhoods and commercial businesses were flattened, while vehicles flew across the air, the mayor described.
“It’s by the grace of God nobody in Little Rock was killed,” Scott said, adding the storm passed through the city at a time many people had not yet returned home from work, which was fortunate timing. “Many people were not at home. If they were, it would have been a massacre.”
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