Powerful Tornadoes Sweep Through Central US, Killing 18

At least 18 people have been killed as tornadoes and storms swept across central areas of the US, devastating homes and leaving hundreds of thousands without power. The fatalities include seven in northern Texas, eight in Arkansas, two in Oklahoma, and one in Kentucky. Additionally, scores of people were injured, and nearly 500,000 were without electricity across several states as of Sunday.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott stated that more than a third of all counties in his state were now under a disaster declaration. In Cooke County, Texas, Sheriff Ray Sappington reported that the death toll included two children, aged two and five, as well as three members of the same family.

“It’s just a trail of debris left,” said Sheriff Sappington, referring to the Valley View area, which was one of the hardest hit by a powerful tornado. “The devastation is pretty severe.”

Footage from the county showed a petrol station and rest stop almost completely destroyed, with twisted metal scattered over damaged vehicles. Twisters overturned lorries, shut down a highway near Dallas, and left tens of thousands without power throughout the region.

Lightning, thunder, and heavy rain also forced the evacuation of around 125,000 spectators as Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 race was delayed by four hours.

Reuters Weather warnings at the Indy 500, shortly before the venue was evacuated.
Weather warnings at the Indy 500, as the venue was evacuated.

Frank Soltysiak, a resident of a mobile home park in north Texas, recounted how his home was destroyed within minutes when a powerful storm struck. Soltysiak was at a nearby restaurant when the owner drove by, “honking his horn, telling everybody to get out,” he told CBS News, the BBC’s US partner.

Soltysiak grabbed his dog, Sampson, and sought refuge in the restaurant’s walk-in refrigerator. “That was the most secure structure you could have gone to. And I come out, and everything is destroyed,” he said. “In a matter of two minutes, it’s gone, everything is gone.”

Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick announced that state emergency response units had been activated to respond to the tornado. “Please pray for these families,” he said of those who lost loved ones. “Their loss is unfathomable.”

The storms in Texas coincided with record-breaking heat in parts of the state, with residents facing triple-digit temperature warnings over the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

In Oklahoma, two people were killed in Mayes County, and six others were injured, according to the local emergency management authority. Arkansas officials reported multiple fatalities and injuries, including a 26-year-old woman found dead outside a destroyed home in Olvey and another death in Benton County. Several people in Rogers, Arkansas, were rescued after a tornado downed trees and power lines, damaging gas supply lines.

In Kentucky, Louisville Mayor Craig Greenburg confirmed on social media that a man had been killed by a falling tree during a severe storm on Sunday.

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