Severe storms with tornadoes kill at least three in central U.S.

Tornadoes have damaged homes and businesses and killed at least three people in the central United States. The three reported deaths came in Ohio's Logan County.

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March 15, 2024 - 2:27 PM

(AP) — Severe storms with probable tornadoes tore through several central U.S. states, damaging homes and businesses and killing at least three people, with more bodies likely to be discovered, authorities said. As the sun rose Friday, officials scrambled to assess the extent of the destruction with the power out.

The three deaths came in Logan County, Ohio, according to the sheriff’s office there. Thursday night’s storms also left trails of destruction in Kentucky, Indiana and Arkansas. Tornadoes were also suspected in Illinois and Missouri.

“Three people have been confirmed dead. We are working on identifying the victims,” said a statement from Chief Deputy Joe Kopus of the Logan County Sheriff’s Office.

There were “many, many significant injuries” after a suspected tornado in Winchester, Indiana, where search efforts were underway, officials said. There were no known fatalities as of Friday morning.

“I’m shaken; it’s overwhelming,” said Bob McCoy, mayor of the town of 4,700 about 70 miles northeast of Indianapolis. “I heard what sounded like a train, and then I started hearing sirens.”

He and his wife were hunkered in a closet during the twister, which hit around 8 p.m.

“I’ve never heard that sound before; I don’t want to hear it again,” McCoy said.

The Winchester storm damaged a Walmart store and a Taco Bell restaurant, Randolph County Sheriff Art Moystner told FOX59/CBS4. Travel throughout the county is restricted to emergency management workers, he said.

West of Winchester, emergency management officials said initial assessments suggested as many as half the structures in the town of Selma, population 750, were damaged by a possible tornado. Only minor injuries were reported, the Delaware County Emergency Management Agency said in a news release.

“Severe weather has impacted Hoosiers all across the state, and we have emergency response personnel in the impacted areas,” Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb posted on Facebook Thursday night.

The Winchester school district was closed Friday, according to a Facebook post. A high school in Winchester had electricity and was open for people who “need somewhere warm and dry.”

In Ohio’s Logan County, a suspected tornado tore through the villages of Lakeview and Russells Point, county spokesperson Sheri Timmers said. An RV park was damaged, Timmers said, and there were likely “lots of injuries.”

Amber Fagan, president and chief executive of the Indian Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, said the community of Lakeview was “completely demolished,” with homes, campgrounds and a laundromat hit by the tornado.

“There’s places burning,” she said. “There’s power lines through people’s windows.”

A shelter was opened for displaced people.

In Arkansas, a suspected tornado struck the retirement community of Hot Springs Village, about 40 miles southwest of Little Rock, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Erik Green.

“It’s pretty clear cut that a tornado did hit Hot Springs Village,” Green said, and assessment teams will go to the area Friday to confirm the twister.

Baseball-sized hail also fell and some buildings were destroyed, but there were no reports of fatalities or injuries, Green said.

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