Tornadoes strike Arkansas and Illinois, killing at least 7 people

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Residents evacuate their neighbourhood after a large tornado damaged hundreds of homes in Little Rock, Arkansas [Benjamin Krain/Getty images]

The destructive weather comes as President Joe Biden tours the aftermath of a deadly tornado that struck Mississippi a week ago.

First responders in the US state of Arkansas sifted through rubble, searching for more possible victims after a fierce tornado blasted through the country, killing at least three people and injuring dozens.

The twister sheared roofs and walls from many buildings, flipped over vehicles and downed trees and power lines on Saturday.

A blast of extreme spring weather swept much of the United States on Friday, menacing the nation’s midsection from Texas to the Great Lakes with thunderstorms and tornadoes.

The storm caused three fatalities in Sullivan County, Indiana, Emergency Management Director Jim Pirtle said.

In northern Illinois, one person was killed and 28 injured when the storm tore the roof off a theatre during a heavy metal concert.

Two Arkansas fatalities occurred in Wynne, about 100 miles (160km) east of Little Rock, Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.

Although more than 30 people were taken to hospital in the Little Rock area, none died as of Friday night, Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr said, adding the count remained imprecise.

“It is truly by the grace of God that we have not experienced any fatalities to date,” Scott told a news conference.

One of several areas to get battered was a section of western Little Rock that is home to 2,100 people, Assistant Police Chief Andre Dyer said.

Residents evacuate
The damaged remains of the Walnut Ridge neighbourhood in Little Rock, Arkansas [Benjamin Krain/ Getty Images]

Two states away in Belvidere, Illinois, a riverside town near the border with Wisconsin, one person died and 28 others were rushed by ambulance to area hospitals, five with serious injuries, Fire Chief Shawn Schadle told reporters.

Schadle said about 260 people were attending the concert at the city’s Apollo Theater, which featured the headline act Morbid Angel as part of the group’s Tour of Terror.

Concertgoer Gabrielle Lewellyn told WTVO television that people took refuge in the basement when the roof came crashing down.

Some people rushed to lift the collapsed portion of the ceiling and pull people out of the rubble, said Lewellyn, who wasn’t hurt.

“They dragged someone out from the rubble. And I sat with him and I held his hand and I said everything is going to be okay. I didn’t really know much else what to do,” Lewellyn said.

The turbulent weather came as President Joe Biden toured the wreckage of a major storm that hit the state of Mississippi last week.

The swarm of thunderstorms unleashed a deadly tornado that devastated the Mississippi town of Rolling Fork, destroying many of the community’s 400 homes and killing 25 people. One person was killed in neighbouring Alabama.

Bident promised to rebuild in Mississippi as meteorologists warned millions of people to brace for enormous storms brewing over at least 15 states in the Midwest and southern US, with more than 85 million people under weather advisories on Friday.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

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