Kansas City (Montana), May 5 (Reuters): Tornadoes raked parts of the central US, killing at least 27 people in a rampage that blew a freight train off the tracks and flattened block after block of buildings, officials said today.
Missouri reported nine deaths and neighboring Kansas seven, while 10 died in Tennessee. Daylight brought frantic rescue efforts in some areas where officials feared debris hid more victims, living and dead. “It’s devastating,” said Michael Spencer, a Red Cross worker in Pierce City, Missouri. Commercial buildings around the town square were hard hit and “there are homes behind them that are just flattened,” he said.
Rescue workers climbed around the ruins of a National Guard armoury in Pierce City where some residents had fled seeking shelter as the storms approached. The roof of the building had collapsed. Police in Pierce City said there was one confirmed fatality there but it was feared some may be trapped in the armoury wreckage. In Lawrence County, where the town is located, there were between six and 12 deaths, the sheriff’s office said.
“It looked like a big wall. There was nothing but trash” being sucked up in a massive black cloud, Kansas City area resident Ed Miller told the Kansas City Star. His home escaped with minor damage but his bedroom was filled with broken glass.
The storms dealt the worst damage to southern Missouri and southern Kansas, as well as western Tennessee where downtown Jackson resembled a war zone.