At least seven people are dead and dozens of others injured after a powerful storm system ripped through the South and Midwest, spawning tornadoes that devastated homes and shopping centers in Arkansas, tore through rural Indiana and collapsed a theater roof during a heavy metal concert in Illinois.
More than 50 preliminary tornado reports were recorded in at least seven states Friday, with the threat of more severe weather looming into midday Saturday as many residents remained trapped in their homes, CNN reported. This included Arkansas, where three people were killed — two in the small city of Wynne and another in North Little Rock
The storm also caused three deaths in Sullivan County, Indiana, while other residents were reported missing.
In Belvidere, Illinois, the roof the historic Apollo Theater collapsed about an hour into a 7 p.m. show slated to feature the metal bands Morbid Angel, Revocation and Skeletal Remains. At least one person was killed and 28 hurt — five of them severely — and authorities said they believe a tornado caused the damage.
Belvidere Fire Department Chief Shawn Schadle said 260 people were at the venue during the collapse. First responders also rescued someone from an elevator and had to grapple with downed power lines outside the theater, he said.
Belvidere Police Chief Shane Woody described the scene as “chaos, absolute chaos.”
One of the patrons, Gabrielle Lewellyn, said she picked the worst time to enter theater.
“I was there within a minute before it came down,” she told WTVO-TV. “The winds, when I was walking up to the building, it went like from zero to a thousand within five seconds.”
As of Saturday morning, nearly 70,000 people were without electricity in Indiana, 52,000 in Arkansas and 37,000 in Illinois, while many other power outages were reported in adjacent states, according to outage tracker PowerOutage.us.
There were other confirmed twisters in Iowa and wind-whipped grass fires blazed in Oklahoma, as the storm system threatened a broad swath of the country home to some 85 million people.
The destructive weather came as President Joe Biden toured the aftermath of a deadly tornado that socked Mississippi one week ago and vowed the government would help the area recover.
With Post wires.