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November 17, 2013

Tornadoes tear through Indiana, Illinois

Tornadoes and severe thunderstorms swept across the Midwest on Sunday, killing at least five people and causing significant damage in dozens of towns in Indiana and Illinois.

Two people were killed in the southern Illinois community of New Minden, and two others were killed further south in Massac County, officials said. A third was killed in Washington, Ill., near Peoria.

In Chicago, Soldier Field was evacuated and the Bears game delayed as the storms approached.

In Indiana, at least 12 counties reported tornadoes, or damage believed to be caused by tornadoes, Gov. Mike Pence said.

A presumed tornado left large swaths of the south side of Kokomo, Ind., in shambles, flipping cars, downing power lines and turning homes and businesses into rubble. High winds pushed the second story of a house into the middle of the road, trapping a woman beneath a car.

Although minor injuries were reported around the city, preliminary reports indicate there have been no deaths. The city declared a state of emergency and ordered residents to remain indoors until 6 a.m. Monday.

“The damage is unbelievable, but what’s more unbelievable is that we had so few injures,” said Kokomo Police patrolman Chris White.

A tornado is also believed to have struck Lebanon, Ind., destroying a Starbucks store, where travelers from the nearby Interstate 65 had sought shelter. Carly Arnold, 17, said she had just reported to work as a barista when a man told everyone to get into the bathroom.

"People were screaming and one woman was lying on the floor because she was too scared to move," Arnold said. "We heard glass shattering and metal twisting. Then it sounded like a train."

They were only in the bathroom a few minutes, and when they opened the door they saw the building had been destroyed.

"It only came to me now how scary it was," Arnold said.

The National Weather Service had issued warnings of damaging storms and late-season tornadoes Sunday. Meteorologists said the greatest risk existed in parts of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and southern Michigan.

Details for this story were reported by The Kokomo (Ind.) Tribune and The Lebanon (Ind.) Reporter. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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