Fierce tornadoes hit several cities in Arkansas and Iowa

Fierce tornadoes hit several cities in Arkansas

A fierce tornado swept through Little Rock, Arkansas and some adjacent cities in the southern United States on Friday, ripping off roofs and walls from many buildings, overturning vehicles and leaving at least three dead and twenty more people hospitalized. Another cyclone also wreaked havoc in Coralville, Iowa, where one death and several injuries were reported.

The University of Arkansas Medical Sciences Hospital, the region’s only trauma center, declared a Level 1 emergency after the tornado struck Little Rock, the state’s capital and most populous city.

“At this time, we know of 24 people who have been hospitalized in Little Rock with no known fatalities,” Mayor Frank Scott Jr. said on Twitter.

However, hours later the governor of Arkansas, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, confirmed the deaths of two people. 

The mayor said the property damage was “extensive”, although the full extent of the devastation was unclear. Scott Jr. further asked Huckabee to mobilize National Guard troops to assist in the emergency response.

Damaged houses and overturned vehicles

Aerial images published by The Weather Channel showed a heavily damaged area of ​​the city covering several blocks with numerous houses without roofs or walls, some of them collapsed, and overturned vehicles in the streets.

Similar scenes were recorded by Twitter users and images distributed by The Associated Press news agency after the passage of another tornado in Coralville, in the state of Iowa.

Local media reported that adjacent communities, including North Little Rock just across the Arkansas River and Jacksonville, also suffered heavy damage. KATV posted an image of a badly damaged secondary school in the town of Wynne.

Around 01:50 CET on Friday, some 90,000 people lost power in Arkansas, and 45,000 in the neighboring state of Iowa, according to the specialized site

The turbulent weather came a week after a swarm of thunderstorms unleashed a deadly tornado that devastated the Mississippi town of Rolling Fork, destroying many homes and killing 26 people.

Roofs blew off

A woman recounted in a live interview broadcast on KATV that she was visiting a salon to get her nails done when she looked out the window and saw swirling leaves moments before the roof of the building was torn off.

The tornado occurred as a huge gust of so-called extreme spring swept across much of the United States, threatening dangerous thunderstorms and tornadoes across a vast area from Texas (south) to the Great Lakes (north).

The National Weather Service was tracking more than two dozen unconfirmed tornadoes, mostly in Arkansas and Iowa.

Tens of millions of Americans across the Great Plains, Midwest, South and East were under warnings and advisories for various weather hazards Friday night and into the weekend, the NWS said.