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June 23, 2015

Tornado rips homes near Chicago, injures several, disrupts power

A tornado destroyed several homes near Chicago late on Monday, weather and rescue officials said, injuring some people and trapping others, closing a highway and cutting power links to thousands of homes.

Emergency responders in the small town of Coal City, about 60 miles (100 km) south of Chicago, reported that homes were  destroyed by the storm, said Joe Schroeder, director of the Grundy County Emergency Management Agency.

He could not give immediate details of the extent of damage or injuries.

At least one person was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries, Coal City Fire Protection District Lieutenant Nick Doerfler.

"I can tell you that we've had everything from fully collapsed residences to minor damage as well," Doerfler said, adding that power lines were down "everywhere" in the town.

At least three homes had been heavily damaged in Monday night's storm, Brittany Halliday, daughter of Coal City Mayor Terry Halliday, told a regional newspaper, the Herald-News.

"There are some houses that are no longer there," she added. "There are (boat) trailers all over the place. It's just a mess."

Traffic on a nearby highway was blocked because of fallen power lines, an Illinois State Police dispatcher said, adding that three truck tractors had overturned there.

At least 19,000 customers in the area had been left without power, utility Commonwealth Edison Co. said.

A "very damaging tornado" had struck the region, the National Weather Service (NWS) in Chicago said. Images published by local media showed yards and streets covered in debris and the roofs of several homes smashed.

Reports of damage also came in from the village of Sublette, some 70 miles (113 km) west of Coal City, weather officials said. The Chicago Tribune reported that Sublette fire officials confirmed five people had been hurt, including one with serious injuries.

NWS said it would send out survey teams to Coal City and elsewhere in north central Illinois on Tuesday to assess the damage left in the storm's wake.

It had earlier warned of severe thunderstorms in the   area and alerted nearby cities against the threat of flash floods.

In neighboring Michigan, five people were rescued from damaged buildings after a tornado hit the city of Lansing on Monday afternoon, the Lansing State Journal newspaper said.