Powerful storms stretching from the US Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes in the north wrecked two small towns and killed at least 15 people Friday as the system tore roofs off schools and homes and damaged a maximum security prison. It was the second deadly tornado outbreak this week.
Authorities reported the 13 deaths in the states of Kentucky and Indiana, where Marysville was leveled and nearby Henryville also suffered extreme damage. Each is home to about 2,000 people.
“Marysville is completely gone,” said Clark County Sheriff’s Department Maj. Chuck Adams.
Aerial footage from a TV news helicopter flying over Henryville showed numerous wrecked houses, some with their roofs torn off and many surrounded by debris, a mangled school bus protruding from the side of a one-story building and dozens of overturned semi-trailers strewn around the smashed remains of a truck stop.
At least 44 tornadoes were reported in five states on Friday, according to the US Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma. Watches were in effect in nine states, meaning the storms had a good chance of forming. Weather service radar was tracking potential cyclones in Indiana, Kentucky, Alabama, Tennessee and Ohio.
Tornadoes ripped across the central US earlier this week, killing at least 12 people. The same storm system snarled air traffic along the East Coast and brought snow to Boston.
An apparent tornado also damaged a state maximum security prison about 10 miles (16 kilometers) from Huntsville, but none of the facility’s approximately 2,100 inmates escaped.