Seven killed as large tornado roars through Iowa

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Iowa tornado, U.S.,

Seven people were killed, including two children, when a tornado swept through central Iowa, damaging buildings and knocking down trees and power lines, authorities said.

Emergency management officials in Madison County said four were injured and six people were killed on Saturday when the tornado touched down in the area southwest of Des Moines at about 4.30pm. Among those killed were two children and four adults.

In Lucas County, officials confirmed one death and multiple reported injuries.

Thunderstorms that spawned tornadoes moved through much of Iowa from the afternoon until Saturday night, with storms also causing damage in the Des Moines suburb of Norwalk, areas just east of Des Moines and other areas of eastern Iowa.

Officials reported a number of homes were damaged, roads were blocked by downed lines and tree branches were shredded by the strong winds. Photos on social media showed downed trees, debris and damaged roofs and vehicles. At one point, power cuts affected about 10,000 in the Des Moines area.

The National Weather Service in Des Moines tweeted early on Sunday that there were at least three thunderstorms producing tornadoes, but it was “unknown at this time how many tornadoes occurred”.

Iowa politician Kim Reynolds issued a disaster proclamation for the county, which allows state resources to be used to assist with response and recovery efforts.

“Our hearts go out to all those affected by the deadly storms that tore through our state today,” she said.

“Our hearts ache during this time, but I know Iowans will step up and come together to help in this time of need — they already are.”

Madison County emergency management director Diogenes Ayala said 25 to 30 homes were badly damaged.

“This is the worst anyone has seen in a very long time,” he said.

Officials did not identify those killed but said they were not all in the same location.

Wendy Burkett told the Des Moines Register she and two of her three daughters were in their house on Saturday afternoon when her husband, Tony, called her from a nearby shed where he was working and alerted her about a tornado warning.

Mrs Burkett said she came outside and joined him in front of the house, looking down their driveway toward the southwest.

“And then we saw it. The tornado,” she said. “There was debris flying around and it was getting louder and louder.”

They hurried with their daughters to their basement as the tornado roared by within seconds. As they clung to each other, a window shattered outwards and water began spewing from the pipes, she said.

Within about a minute, the tornado passed by, and while the family was unhurt, their home was in ruins amid debris all around, even in the trees.

The National Weather Service in Des Moines tweeted on Saturday that initial photos and videos from the damage around the community of Winterset suggested it was at least an EF-3 tornado, capable of causing severe damage, on the Enhanced Fujita scale.

It said weather service teams would investigate the damage on Sunday and further assess a potential rating.

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