US & Canada

Deadly US tornadoes strike Nebraska

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Media captionFootage shows the deadly twin tornadoes side by side, as the BBC's Wendy Urquhart reports

At least one person is dead and at least 19 are hurt after two massive tornadoes hit the US state of Nebraska.

The town of Pilger, about 100 miles (160km) north-west of Omaha, with a population of 350 people, was devastated by the twisters.

Jerry Weatherholt, county commissioner, said half the town is damaged.

The tornadoes were a mile apart, says the National Weather Service, and another massive tornado has been tracked near Burwell, central Nebraska.

"It was like God dragged two fingernails across the the land," Gregg Moeller told the nearby Norfolk Daily News newspaper.

Pilger saw significant damage to a school, a bank and a church in town, and many homes in the southern portion of the town were destroyed or damaged.

"More than half of the town is gone - absolutely gone," Mr Weatherholt said. "The co-op is gone, the grains bins are gone, and it looks like almost every house in town has some damage. It's a complete mess."

Image copyright Reuters
Image copyright Reuters

Faith Regional Health Services hospital spokeswoman Jodi Richey told the Associated Press news agency one person had died and 16 were being treated for injuries.

Providence Medical Center in nearby Wayne also treated three hurt by the tornado, two who have been already released, hospital spokeswoman Sandy Bartling said.

The governor of the state has declared an emergency, which will allow the use of Nebraska's National Guard.

Stanton County emergency manager Sanford Goshorn told CNN his agency was still in response mode and said the number of those injured could rise.

"We're still digging people out," he said.

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