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Suspected Tornado Rips through Kansas, Causes Severe Damage

WICHITA, Kan. — A suspected tornado that barreled through parts of Kansas damaged multiple buildings, injured several people and left more than 6,500 people without power, officials said Saturday.

Officials said the suspected twister moved though parts of southeast Wichita and Andover on Friday evening. Andover Fire Chief Chad Russell said during a news conference early Saturday morning that 50 to 100 buildings were damaged in Sedgwick County, though it was not immediately known how many buildings were damaged in Andover.

Russell said in some neighborhoods homes “were completely blown away.”

Officials said only a few injuries had been reported. In Sedgwick County, three people were injured, including one woman who suffered serious injuries. Russell said no injuries had been reported in Butler County, but a secondary assessment would be conducted Saturday morning.

He said some neighborhoods were “damaged enough that houses were completely blown down” and cited areas that suffered “very bad damage.”

City Hall also sustained damage, which hampered “some of our efforts,” Russell said. Other buildings reportedly damaged included the Dr. Jim Farha Andover YMCA and Prairie Creek Elementary School.

Gov. Laura Kelly declared a State of Disaster Emergency for the hardest hit areas. The declaration makes state resources available to help local jurisdictions with response and recovery efforts in areas impacted statewide.

In addition to the tornadoes, large hail was reported in several towns across the Plains. Hail the size of softballs was spotted near Holbrook, Nebraska, and Enterprise, Kansas, according to the National Weather Service and storm spotters.

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