Violent tornadoes kill 5 in US Midwest, dozens injured

Violent tornadoes kill 5 in US Midwest, dozens injured

CHICAGO - At least five people were killed and dozens more hurt as severe storms and violent tornadoes battered the US Midwest Sunday, and officials warned the toll would rise.

Flights were grounded and tens of thousands of homes lost power as intense winds overturned cars, uprooted large trees and snapped power lines. Large swaths of the city of Washington, Illinois, were flattened.

President Barack Obama was briefed about the storms and will receive regular updates, the White House said.

Illinois Emergency Management Agency chief Jonathon Monken told CNN at leave five people had been killed - including two in the far southern tip of the state and one in Washington - as he warned that the number of injuries would likely increase "significantly."

At least two of the victims were killed in the small town of New Minden, Washington County Coroner Mark Styninger told AFP.

Joseph Hoy, 80, was found dead on his farm while his 78-year-old sister Frances was pronounced dead in hospital.

"It just happened so fast," said Styninger, who lives just two miles (around three kilometers) from the Hoy farm.

Local television reported at least 37 people were being treated by a medical centre in Illinois, seven of them with "severe" injuries.

'Please pray' says storm-hit town's mayor

Monken said at least 70 homes were completely destroyed in two different areas, and hundreds were damaged less severely. Four Red Cross shelters have been opened in the affected zone.

The dangerous weather caused the National Football League to suspend a game in Chicago, asking fans and players to take cover in the stadium. The game resumed almost two hours later.

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