A flurry of tornadoes that formed unexpectedly swept through central Iowa Thursday, injuring at least 17 people, flattening buildings in three cities and forcing the evacuation of a hospital. No deaths were reported.
Hardest hit appeared to be Marshalltown, a city of 27,000 people about 80 kilometres northeast of Des Moines, where brick walls collapsed in the streets, roofs were blown off buildings and the cupola of the historic courthouse tumbled 53 metres to the ground. A state of emergency was declared.
The National Weather Service in Des Moines says several tornadoes were confirmed but no serious damage was immediately reported. 6 News will update this story as weather and damage reports continue to come in.
Amy Varcoe, a spokeswoman for Des Moines-based UnityPoint Health, told AP that its hospital in Marshalltown was being evacuated and 40 patients were being moved to hospitals in Waterloo and Grundy Center.
Everyone is advised to stay away from the downtown area until further notice. "We also ask that people stay off cell lines unless necessary, to allow for emergency phone traffic". Her husband looked outside and then ran back, shouting "Get in the basement".
After the tornado rushed over them, damaging the shop and destroying her husband's auto, they emerged unharmed.
"We went through a tornado and survived, " Moz said.
Shane Cox told television station KCCI-TV that some people from the plant were taken to a hospital, but he didn't know the extent of injuries or the number of people.
T.J. Phillips, who captured the Bondurant tornado on video as it tore through a neighborhood, can be heard saying, "Houses are being torn to shreds".
The dramatic images showed the roofs of homes torn to shreds as tornadoes waded through rural parts of the Hawkeye State on Thursday. All had minor injuries and were released after treatment, Rhamy said.
More severe storms are likely in the Midwest on Friday.
The exact number of tornadoes and their strength are yet to be determined, however the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Centre logged 32 reports of different tornadoes.
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