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at least four dead after tornado in Arkansas and thunderstorms in Illinois

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A week after the tornado swept through Mississippi killing 25 people, a violent tornado touched down in Little Rock, Arkansas, United States on Friday, killing at least three people.

At least three people were killed Friday March 31 by a powerful tornado which swept through the state of Arkansas, in the southern United States, while the partial collapse of a theater, further north, under the Severe thunderstorms left at least one dead and 28 injured, authorities said.

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 suffered significant damage,” she tweeted.

In addition, the county of Pulaski – where the capital of Arkansas Little Rock is located – was hard hit, confirmed to AFP a third death. “About 30 people were 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 and Iowa.

The tornado left in its wake a spectacle of desolation with overturned cars, huge uprooted trees, broken telephone poles and gutted houses. More than 78,000 people were deprived of electricity, according to the American site Poweroutage.

Lara Farrar, a reporter for a local business publication, told AFP by telephone 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 destroyed houses, the walls partially torn down, trees on the ground.

“The neighborhood was simply completely razed and destroyed,” she added, referring to significant destruction on a strip about 500 meters wide but with “very little damage” outside.

A roof collapses in the middle of a concert

In the north of the country, in the small town of Belvidere, west of Chicago in the State of Illinois, part of the roof and the 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.

Belvidere Fire Chief Shawn Schadle 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.

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 immense property damage. President Joe Biden visited the site on Friday.

In December 2021, about 80 people lost their lives after tornadoes hit Kentucky.

With AFP

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