A tornado hit a tiny town in Illinois state, killing one person, injuring seven and sweeping homes off their foundations as a large storm system swept across a large swathe of the US.
The vast storm system brought high winds and rain to east Texas, ripping off a church rooftop there and damaging a nursing home, prompting an evacuation, authorities said.
In the Illinois town of Fairdale, a 67-year-old woman was found dead inside her home, county coroner Dennis Miller said.
Seven others were taken to hospitals with injuries after the National Weather Service first tweeted at about 7pm on Thursday that a tornado was on the ground in the region.
In Fairdale, an unincorporated town of about 200 residents about 80 miles north-west of Chicago, “17 structures have been determined to be destroyed”, Matthew Knott, division chief for the Rockford fire department, said.
“All of the others have sustained damage of some sort.”
The town’s power was out early today and everyone had been evacuated. A shelter was set up at a nearby high school.
Some 20 additional homes were severely damaged or destroyed in nearby Ogle County, sheriff Brian Van Vickle said, adding no deaths or significant injuries were reported there.
Mr Van Vickle said 12 people were trapped in the basement of a restaurant in Rochelle in that state which collapsed during the storm.
One of those rescued from the restaurant, Raymond Kramer, 81, told Chicago’s WLS-TV that he was trapped with 11 others in the storm cellar for 90 minutes. They were freed unharmed only after emergency crews removed debris that had fallen all around.
The severe weather, the region’s first widespread bout, forced the cancellation of more than 850 flights at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and dozens of others at the city’s Midway International Airport.