November 6, 2005

Indiana tornado kills 11

By Carey Gillam

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Reuters) - A powerful tornado tore
through southern Indiana and parts of Kentucky early on Sunday,
killing at least 11 people and injuring more than 100,
according to emergency officials.

Four people were confirmed dead in Warrick County and seven
were reported killed in Vanderburgh County and hospitals
reported taking in at least 160, said Newburgh assistant fire
chief Chad Bennett.

"We've had severe damage," Bennett said. "Homes were
totally devastated. "People are having to try to crawl out of
their homes."

Bennett said the death toll could climb as rescue workers
pick through rubble.

A mobile home park in Evansville was one of the places
hardest hit when the storm struck well before dawn. Many homes
there were reduced to twisted piles of metal that lay mixed
with remains of downed trees and other debris.

Dazed survivors were seen on local television reports
wandering through battered neighborhoods.

Such television images have become familiar to U.S. viewers
lately, after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf coast in August,
devastating New Orleans, followed by Hurricane Rita's strike
next the border of Louisiana and Texas in September and
Hurricane Wilma, which caused widespread destruction in Florida
last month.

The tornado hit at about 2 a.m. local time, with little
advance notice. Alarm sirens sounded only about 10 minutes
before it hit.

"Most people were asleep. They probably didn't hear the
sirens," Bennett said.

An estimated 21,000 people were without power and officials
declared a local state of emergency as they scrambled to locate
and assist survivors and search for any further fatalities in
house-to-house searches.

The tornado left a path of destruction about 20 miles (32
km) long and three-quarters of a mile wide from northern
Kentucky into southern Indiana, officials said.

In Henderson County, Kentucky, the Ellis Park racetrack
suffered major damage, with the grandstand ripped away and
several barns damaged and horses killed, officials said.

The Indiana National Guard was monitoring the situation and
preparing to move into the area to assist local officials, said
national guard spokeswoman Lisa Kopczynski.