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Tornado kills 22 in Indiana


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Tornado kills 22 in Indiana

Storm struck in middle of night, catching many asleep

Sunday, November 6, 2005; Posted: 3:51 p.m. EST (20:51 GMT)




(CNN) -- An overnight tornado ripped a 20-mile-long path through southwestern Indiana, killing at least 22 people and injuring some 230 others, officials said Sunday.


Adam Groupey, deputy director of emergency management for Evansville and Vanderburgh County, said the tornado touched down about 2 a.m. in Henderson County, Kentucky, then crossed the Ohio River and hit an Evansville mobile home park before moving into Warrick County.


One resident of the trailer park told WFIE of Evansville she saw a tornado pick up a car with members of her family in it and toss the vehicle into a tree. Brandi Crawley said no one was seriously injured. (Watch what one official describes as a 'very shocking' scene -- 6:29)


"The damage is very, very extensive," said Chad Bennett, an assistant fire chief in Newburgh, in Warrick County. He said the area hardest hit was just north of the city limits.


"Now that daylight has come, it is making it a little more easy to see the scope of the damage, and it is very shocking."


Bennett estimated the damage path was about 3/4 of a mile wide and 20 miles long. (Map of the area)


Groupey said officials had declared a local state of emergency, the first step toward requesting state assistance.


Many residents said the storm moved through very quickly, with the rush of wind lasting less than 15 seconds.


The National Weather Service had issued warnings for the area about 30 minutes before the tornado struck, but many people were asleep and were not aware of them.

'Terrible wind all day long'


Vanderburgh County Coroner Don Erk said at least 17 people were killed in that county and that the bodies of five more from neighboring Warrick County were being transferred to his facility.


"I'm sure there's going to be more," he said.


"This is very rural country," he said. "They found one family deceased in the middle of a bean field. But I can't give you a definite number."


It was the deadliest day of tornado activity in the United States since April 8, 1998, when 37 people were killed, including 32 in Oak Grove, Alabama.


Michael Hart, a spokesman for Deaconess Hospital in Evansville, said the facility had received 50 patients, 15 of them in critical condition.


St. Mary's Medical Center in Evansville has treated 150 people for injuries and admitted 30 of them, 12 in critical condition, said spokesman Jeff Jones. Typical injuries included fractures, lacerations and blunt trauma to the chest and head, he said.


"They are still finding people in the rubble of the destruction [at the trailer park]. So, that's the reason it's still an active search and rescue, because they are still rescuing people," Indiana Homeland Security spokeswoman Pam Bright told CNNRadio.


Bright said 100 of the 320 mobile homes had been destroyed and 125 others had been damaged.


A Red Cross spokeswoman, Tiffany Horn, said authorities were trying to evacuate the area and that the organization had been on the scene since shortly after the tornado struck.


In addition, about 21,000 households were without power, Mike Roeder, a spokesman for Vectren Power, said Sunday morning. Authorities said there were downed power lines and that people should stay in their homes.


"We had a terrible wind all day long," Timmel said. "It just started increasing and increasing."


He estimated the winds at 60 mph.


The tornado hit the southwestern Indiana town of Newburgh in two places, he said. "There were houses that were leveled."


John Asher, vice president of communications for Churchill Downs, which owns Ellis Park horse track in Henderson County in Kentucky, said some of the 150 race horses there died.


Before Sunday's storm, seven tornadoes had killed 10 people since January in the United States.


CNN's Ann Kellan and Niles Schumer contributed to this report.



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