Sunday, April 24, 2011

Pictured: Aerial view of the devastation left by tornado


Ripped up: Debris is strewn around this home in Bridgeton St Louis County. Miraculously only three people suffered minor injuries during the storm

It was like being in a horror movie, says passenger

This was the scene of devastation today left by a tornado which hit several counties in St Louis and tore off the roof of the city's International airport.

Almost 50,000 homes had power cuts as the storm flattened dozens of homes in Maryland Heights and Bridgeton and threw cars into the air. Miraculously only three people suffered minor injuries.

Five were taken to hospital with cuts and many more treated at Lambert airport after half the windows in the main terminal were blown out sending debris raining down on passengers.

The airport - crowded with travellers heading home for Easter - was so badly damaged it was shut down on Saturday but was planning to run a reduced flight schedule by Sunday morning.

Battered: In this aerial photograph, homes have been destroyed in Bridgeton with neighbours surveying the damage

Empty shell: An officer cautiously climbs stairs of what was once a family home as colleagues search debris

One American Airlines 757 jet sustained significant damage, and four other American planes had minor damage. Five or six flights had to be diverted from St. Louis.

Winds were so severe they blew an airport shuttle bus to the end of a car park where it teetered over the edge.

If the power is restored to the terminal, it is expected to operate at around 70 per cent of its normal capacity. Around a 1,000 workers are involved in the clean-up operation.

Airport director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge said: 'There are a number of things we can be thankful for. It's a miracle there were no fatalities.'

Gaping: A large hole is seen in the roof of the main terminal. Five people were treated in hospital for cuts when half the windows were blown out by the storm

Destruction: Storm damage is seen next to a parking garage outside terminal one at St. Louis International

Smashed up: The aftermath of the tornado which sprayed debris over the airfield and burst glass in the airport

Sirens went off inside the airport and staff scrambled to rush hundreds of passengers into bathrooms and offices to ride out the storm.

Dianna Merrill, a mail carrier from St. Louis, was waiting inside the terminal to fly to New York when the storm hit.

She said: 'Glass was blowing everywhere. The ceiling was falling. The glass was hitting us in the face. Hail and rain were coming in.

'The wind was blowing debris all over the place. It was like being in a horror movie. Grown men were crying. It was horrible.'

Perilous: A shuttle bus was blown across a car park and left teetering dangerously over the edge

source: dailymail

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