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Authorities scour debris for more victims after tornadoes pummel Arkansas

Apr 01, 2023, 10:03 pm

Arkansas first responders on Saturday were sifting through debris for more possible victims after tornadoes sliced through the state, killing at least four people and injuring dozens of others.

The twisters sheared roofs and walls from many buildings, flipped over vehicles and downed trees and power lines in Little Rock and large areas east and northeast of the state capital, officials said.

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 tornados.

Four fatalities in Arkansas were reported in Wynne, about 100 miles (160 km) east of Little Rock, Cross County Coroner Eli Long said.

One person was killed and more than 50 people were hospitalized in North Little Rock, Pulaski County spokeswoman Madeline Roberts told the Washington Post.

Although more than 30 people were hospitalized in the Little Rock area, none had died as of Friday night, said Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr., who added that the count remained imprecise.

"It is truly by the grace of God that we have not experienced any fatalities to date," Scott said in 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.

U.S. President Joe Biden spoke with Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders and the mayors of Little Rock and Wynne, the White House said in a statement. He also spoke with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Deanne Criswell.

Biden reached out to Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker but has not yet connected, the White House added.

In Belvidere, a city in northern Illinois, one person was killed and 28 were injured when extreme weather tore the roof off a theater during a heavy metal concert.

Belvidere Fire Chief Shawn Schadle said about 260 people were attending the concert at the city's Apollo Theatre, which featured the headline act Morbid Angel as part of the group's "Tour of Terror."

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