(Washington) At least three people were killed Friday by a powerful tornado which swept through the state of Arkansas (Southern United States), while three other people died in the North under the blow of violent thunderstorms in Illinois and Indiana, according to authorities.
In Arkansas, two people died in the small town of Wynne, said Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders at a press conference, who declared a state of emergency and deployed a hundred national guards.
“Central Arkansas sustained major damage,” she tweeted.
Additionally, Pulaski County — home to the hard-hit Arkansas capital Little Rock — confirmed a third victim to AFP.
“About 30 people have been transported to hospitals” in the city, Frank Scott, mayor of Little Rock, told reporters.
The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued tornado warnings for parts of neighboring states like Tennessee, Illinois, Kentucky and Iowa.
The tornado left in its wake a spectacle of desolation with overturned cars, huge uprooted trees, broken telephone poles and gutted houses.
Lara Farrar, a reporter for a local business publication, told AFP by phone that she was “totally shocked” when she discovered the damage near her home in Little Rock.
“The roof of some buildings was completely blown off,” she testified, sharing images of houses destroyed, walls partially ripped off, trees on the ground.
“The neighborhood was just completely flattened and destroyed,” she added, citing extensive destruction in a strip about 500 meters wide but with “very little damage” outside.
In the north of the country, in the small town of Belvidere, west of Chicago, Illinois, part of the roof and facade of the Apollo Theater collapsed during the passage of a violent storm.
A concert by a heavy metal band was underway, according to local media.
Shawn Schadle, Belvidere Fire Chief, reported one death and 28 injuries, including five hospitalized with serious injuries.
More than twenty ambulances were mobilized, according to the local press.
Television footage showed injured spectators being evacuated on stretchers, and photos on social media showed a waist-deep pile of debris and a gaping hole in the roof in the venue.
In the neighboring state of Indiana, two people were killed by a storm in Sullivan County, WTHI reported, citing Indiana police.
Images posted on Twitter by the WTHI channel showed downed telephone poles, collapsed houses and debris on the roads.
The Arkansas tornado hit in the afternoon, sweeping through several neighborhoods in Little Rock.
More than 78,000 people have been without electricity in this state, according to the American site Poweroutage.
Tornadoes, meteorological phenomena as impressive as they are difficult to predict, are common in the United States, especially in the center and south of the country.
A week ago, a tornado swept through Mississippi, killing 25 people and causing extensive property damage. President Joe Biden visited the site on Friday.
In December 2021, approximately 80 people lost their lives after tornadoes hit Kentucky.