(Photo: Reuters/Anthony Khoury/Handout via Reuters)
Dozens of tornadoes and thunderstorms spawned by a fast-moving storm system slammed the Midwest on Sunday, killing at least six people, injuring dozens of others and destroying hundreds of homes. Illinois bore the brunt of the weather system, which also caused flash floods and hail.
While communication problems and inaccessible roads made it difficult for authorities to ascertain the total number of deaths and injuries, at least six people were reported to be killed and about 50 sustained injuries in Illinois, as of early Monday.
Three people were killed in the cities of Nashville and Washington in Washington County, Ill, and three more were killed in Brookport and Unionville in Massac County, Ill., according to reports.
At least 37 people injured by the storms were being treated at St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria, Ill., and more than a dozen others at Methodist Medical Center in the same city.
"This is likely to be an EF-3 or higher tornado (in Washington, Ill.)," said Dr. Greg Forbes, severe weather expert at The Weather Channel.
"It's a sad day in Washington. The devastation is just unbelievable. You just can't imagine. It looks like a war zone in our community," Washington Mayor Gary Manier was quoted as saying. "It's kind of widespread and went right through our community of 15,000 people."
"It was complete destruction," Anthony Khoury, a Washington resident, told CNN. "There are people in the streets crying."
"I grabbed my daughter and ran," another survivor told WMBD.
"It wiped out homes, mobile homes," Reuters quoted Charles Taylor, deputy director of the Emergency Services and Disaster Agency in Massac County, Ill., as saying. "It downed trees, power lines. We have gas leaks, numerous injuries whether they were in mobile homes, or outdoors, even in the motor vehicles, people have been trapped."
"We have reports of homes being flattened, roofs being torn off," Sara Sparkman, a spokeswoman for the health department of Tazewell County, Ill., was quoted as saying. "We have actual whole neighborhoods being demolished by the storm."
The NFL game between the Chicago Bears and Baltimore Ravens at Soldier Field was also delayed for nearly two hours as storms approached Chicago. The game resumed after the storm passed.
Chicago's two major airports also briefly stopped traffic.
At least 80,000 customers were without power, most of them in Peoria, Ill.
The Weather Channel says it recorded 77 preliminary reports of tornadoes, with 252 reports of wind damage or high winds, across eight states: Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, Iowa and Wisconsin.
In Kentucky, tornadoes were spotted in at least eight Kentucky counties, according to Weather.com.
The cities of Washington and Lebanon in Indiana sustained significant damage and 12 counties either reported tornado touchdowns or storm damage, according to Gov. Mike Pence.
In Michigan, 253,000 customers were without power after high winds and rain slammed into the western part of the state. In Missouri, over 37,000 power outages were reported, mostly in the St. Louis area. More than 38,000 customers were without power across northwest Ohio. In Wisconsin, strong winds damaged some buildings and downed numerous trees in Dodge County.