Severe storms, tornadoes kill 3 in US Midwest

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Severe storms, tornadoes kill 3 in US Midwest
Photo taken by Alexandra Sutter showing the extent of the tornado damage in Illinois.

CHICAGO - Severe storms and violent tornadoes killed at least two people and injured dozens as they battered the US Midwest on Sunday, with dozens of powerful twisters causing major damage in central Illinois.

At least three people were killed in the state, Illinois Emergency Management Agency chief Jonathon Monken told CNN.

Local NBC television affiliate News 25 reported at least 37 people were being treated at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria, Illinois, seven of them with "severe" injuries.

"It's not entirely over, we want to make sure that everybody stays safe," Monken said.

"The most important thing is to remind people to stay indoors. Stay away from windows and, at this point, just make sure that you're paying close attention to the news, you're watching the weather and you're staying aware of what can happen."

He said 70 homes were completely destroyed in two different areas, and hundreds were damaged less severely. Four Red Cross shelters were also open in the affected zone.

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

Powerful winds overturned cars, uprooted large trees and snapped power lines.

The devastating damage saw homes reduced to piles of rubble in central Illinois. Other homes had their roofs and siding blown off, leaving only the wooden frame and concrete foundation. The windows were blown out of some shops.

In Indiana, local media reported damage to commercial buildings in Lebanon and Kokomo, including a destroyed bank branch.

More than 64,600 homes lost power, according to Duke Energy. In the metropolitan area of the state capital Indianapolis, Indianapolis Power & Light reported nearly 16,000 without power.

"Absolute destruction," WMBD31 news reporter Alexandra Sutter wrote on Twitter in describing the scene.

Sutter later tweeted, after speaking with the mayor of the storm-hit town of Washington: "I asked what we can report to help. He said only 'please pray.'"

The CBS television affiliate for Central Illinois where she works said that its studio, which also hosts the local Fox affiliate, lost signal after a power hit to its transmitter.

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