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One dead as storm caves in roof at packed US music gig

One person has been killed and dozens more injured after a storm caused a theatre roof to collapse in Illinois at a packed heavy metal gig.

Around 260 people were in the Apollo Theater, Belvidere, when the roof caved in at 19:55 local time (01:05 BST), the local fire department said.

Fire chief Shawn Schadle said that five people were in a serious condition.

A series of fierce tornadoes ripped through several US states on Friday, killing at least four people in total.

Extensive damage was reported in parts of the South and Midwest – with the states of Arkansas and Missouri declaring states of emergency. Tens of thousands were left without power.

A major tornado tore through the Arkansas state capital Little Rock, flipping cars, smashing roofs and toppling trees. Local officials said one person was killed and the city’s mayor reported that at least 24 people were injured.

The state’s governor, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, confirmed the deaths of two people in the town of Wynne, some 100 miles (170km) from Little Rock.

More than 40 tornado reports were made across six states on Friday night, according to the US government’s Storm Prediction Center.

Several flights at Chicago O’Hare International Airport were delayed or cancelled as passengers were told to take shelter due to what it described as “severe weather”.

In Tennessee, Covington Mayor Jan Hensley pleaded with people not to “drive around” as power lines had been hit by storms.

The Covington Police Department described the city as “impassable” sharing photos of roads blocked by downed power poles and large trees toppled in front of homes.

Mrs Huckabee Sanders deployed the National Guard after what she described as “significant damage” in central Arkansas.

As of 20:30 local time, more than 70,000 in her state were without electricity, according to the US power outage website.

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Medical Center in Little Rock said it was expecting at least 15-20 patients.

Baptist Health Medical Center, the state’s biggest hospital, said it had five patients in a critical condition.

The night of deadly tornadoes comes just one week after a rare, long-track twister killed 26 people in Mississippi.

President Joe Biden visited the state on Friday to pay his condolences and promise federal aid.

In a bulletin the Storm Prediction Center warned some of the projected tornadoes could track across the ground for long distances.

The Mississippi tornado last week travelled 59 miles (94km) and lasted about an hour and 10 minutes – an unusually long period of time for a storm to sustain itself. It damaged about 2,000 homes, officials said.

Tornado damage in Arkansas
Tornado damage in Arkansas (REUTERS)

Debris strewn across a road in Little Rock, Arkansas
Debris strewn across a road in Little Rock, Arkansas (ANDREW COLLINS)
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