At least three people have been killed after severe storms hit the US states of Indiana and Arkansas, local authorities said, as several tornadoes touched down in some areas.
The tornadoes were reported on Sunday afternoon in the southern portion of Indiana, according to the National Weather Service.
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Images and footage from local media showed fallen trees had blocked roads and damaged homes. A large hailstorm was also reported in Indiana and nearby states, officials said.
Emergency officials from Martin County, Indiana, confirmed one death. The victim’s injured partner was airlifted to hospital, Emergency Management Director Cameron Wolf said.
Tornado damages near us pic.twitter.com/rk6EF8cZfd
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The couple lived in a two-storey log cabin, which was destroyed, authorities said. Further details were not immediately available.
“Damage is random. It’s kind of widespread,” Wolf said in an interview with US news outlet PBS. The hardest hit areas were sparsely populated, he said.
In Arkansas, two people were also killed after a tree fell on a home in Carlisle amid severe storms on Sunday night, the Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office told a CBS News affiliate. A third person survived.
Meanwhile, about 75 homes were damaged in Johnson County, Indiana – located south of the state capital, Indianapolis – including in the towns of Greenwood and Bargersville, officials said.
“Obviously, this is a very dangerous scene for the area,” Bargersville Fire Chief Eric Funkhouser said during a news conference. “We have power lines that are down all throughout that 3-mile area.”
Speaking to the Indianapolis Star, Kimber Olson, 42, recounted telling her eight-year-old son to sit in the bathtub. She then went outside and filmed what appeared to be two tornado columns near her home in Bargersville.
“The sound is deafening,” Olson said. “You’ll never forget the sound. Your ears pop in such a strange way. You get a ring in your ear.”
After the tornado got closer, she went inside, closed all the doors and jumped in the bathtub with her son, she said.
She heard glass explode as her window shattered.
“Every storm I’m going to be terrified,” she said. “I’m going to be watching – very, very vigilant.”
Survey teams were set to visit Martin, Johnson, Daviess and Monroe counties on Monday to assess the damage, according to the National Weather Service office in Indianapolis.
As of Monday morning, about half a million utility customers faced power outages due to the weather in the US Midwest and South, according to the energy tracking website PowerOutage.us.
A few days ago, at least one person was killed and about two dozen others were injured when a tornado hit central Mississippi.
A dangerous heatwave has helped spawn deadly tornadoes in Texas and Florida, where at least four people were killed this month in the storms.
A recent study published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society suggested that the types of intense storms that are known to spawn tornadoes are expected to increase as temperatures rise from climate change.