Another apparent victim found after deadly weekend tornado - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Another apparent victim found after deadly weekend tornado

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) - The body of another apparent victim from a weekend tornado that leveled a mobile home park was found Monday by rescuers searching a large retention pond.

The discovery raised to 22 the death toll from the tornado, which struck at 2 a.m. Sunday as people slept, making it the deadliest in Indiana in more than three decades. Vanderburgh County Sheriff Brad Ellsworth released no details about the latest victim, whose body was found within hours of work beginning to drain the 6-foot-deep pond.

Eighteen people died at Eastbrook Mobile Home Park, including four found Sunday in the retention pond, Chief Deputy Sheriff Eric Williams said.

"It is the one spot in this area that we have not thoroughly searched because it is under water," Williams said.

Ellsworth said the pond near the mobile home park would be drained by Monday evening to determine whether it held any other bodies.

Knight Township Fire Chief Dale Naylor said he believed that all survivors or bodies left in the wreckage had otherwise been found.

"We turned over every piece of debris on the site," he said Monday. "We backed it up with search dogs, and we are confident that if anyone is still in there, we would've found them."

Four people, including a woman who was eight months pregnant, died from the tornado in neighboring Warrick County, east of Evansville. More than 100 people were taken to hospitals. Ellsworth said authorities did not have a count of any people missing because so many had left the area near the Ohio River on their own.

Authorities were not yet allowing residents to return to check on their homes as crews continued to clean up and check that utilities had been shut off.

"Mother Nature picked the worst place to drop in a tornado," Ellsworth said. "There's not a safe place to escape to. You're just up to fate at this point."

The tornado struck a horse racing track near Henderson, Ky., then crossed into Indiana.

All the dead were in Indiana. The youngest victim at the trailer park was a 2-year-old boy who was killed along with his 61-year-old grandmother, the Vanderburgh County coroner's office said.

Mobile home park resident Tim Martin, 42, said he and his parents were awakened by the wind, which lifted their home and moved it halfway into the neighbor's yard. They escaped unharmed, but he said they heard several neighbors calling for help.

"All I could see was debris," he said. "I thought it was a bad dream."

White vinyl siding was blown to a farmer's field next to the mobile home park and to the treetops in the Angel Mounds State Historic Site across the street.

Although the possibility of finding survivors seemed to diminish Sunday as the day wore on, there were glimmers of hope. Firefighters were elated to find a child trapped, but alive, beneath part of a mobile home.

"That's what it's all about," said Perry Township fire Chief Jerry Bulger, holding back tears as he spoke of the child's rescue.

Indiana officials said emergency sirens sounded twice, but many in the mobile home park said they did not hear them.

"They're not really designed to wake people up in the middle of the night," said John Buckman, fire chief of German Township Fire Department in Vanderburgh County.

National Guard troops were called in to help with search-and-recovery efforts. Gov. Mitch Daniels toured Vanderburgh and Warrick counties Sunday to survey the damage.

Indiana homeland security spokeswoman Pam Bright said the tornado was the deadliest in Indiana since April 3, 1974, when 47 people were killed. Those storms were part of one of the worst tornado outbreaks in U.S. history, which killed more than 300 in the South and Midwest and devastated Xenia, Ohio.

Ryan Presley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said the tornado appears to have been an F3 on the Fujita scale, with winds ranging from 158 mph to 206 mph. The scale ranges from F0, the weakest, to F5, the strongest.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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