Tornado outbreak in Iowa causes catastrophic damage

Iowa tornadoes bring trail of destruction that hits historic courthouse, theatre and factory

The report came after a storm system generated a number of tornadoes that caused damage to several towns in eastern Iowa.

The hardest hit location appeared to be Marshalltown, a city of 27,000 people about 50 miles northeast of Des Moines, where brick walls collapsed in the streets, roofs were blown off buildings and the cupola of the historic courthouse tumbled 175 feet to the ground. A state of emergency was declared.

The National Weather Service had issued a tornado warning Thursday afternoon for eastern Marshall County and southwestern Tama County.

40 patients had to be evacuated from a hospital in Marshalltown after it was badly damaged by a tornado. There were no reports of injuries by midafternoon Thursday.

A woman working at Hammer Medical Supply in the city's downtown says her building has minor damage. "We also ask that people stay off cell lines unless necessary, to allow for emergency phone traffic".

The storm broke out a window, ruining clothing and hats on display there, and destroyed her husband's vehicle, but she said she's relieved.

Weather forecasters said the tornadoes formed suddenly and took them by surprise.

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"We certainly are going to rebuild, and we're going to come back stronger than ever", CEO Jason Andringa said, his voice choked with emotion.

Lt Shane Cox from Pella Police Department in Iowa told U.S. news a number of people have been injured and taken to local hospitals.

Pella Regional Health Center spokeswoman Billie Rhamy said the seven injured people were treated at the hospital and had been released. They said there are no patient or staff injuries reported within the hospital, but the building did sustain structural damage.

T.J. Phillips, who captured the Bondurant tornado on video as it tore through a neighborhood, can be heard saying, "Houses are being torn to shreds".

UnityPoint Health said a tornado struck the hospital in Marshalltown about 5 p.m. Thursday.

More severe weather is likely in the Midwest on Friday.

At least six people have been injured after several tornadoes ripped through Iowa, with the fierce storms leaving a path of destruction in their wake. "Praying for all Iowans impacted & for the emergency management crews responding tonight", Gov. Kim Reynolds tweeted Thursday.

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