State of emergency declared following 'worst Virginia tornadoes in 60 years'

Three tornadoes carved a 25-mile track of destruction through south-eastern Virginia on Tuesday morning, gutting homes, tossing cars, and injuring more than 200 people.

Reports from catastrophe risk modelling firm AIR Worldwide said several communities were evacuated and many people were remaining in shelters as rescue crews searched collapsed homes for victims. The damage has prompted the state governor to declare a state of emergency in southeastern Virginia.

The tornadoes downed trees and power lines and made travel dangerous. In hardest-hit Suffolk (population 82,000), local police have closed several roads and abandoned cars remain along highways. An estimated 150 homes in the Suffolk area sustained damaged.

“If the Suffolk tornado is declared an EF3 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, as some meteorologists are suggesting, it will be the strongest tornado to hit Virginia in nearly 60 years,” said Dr Tim Doggett, senior research scientist at AIR Worldwide.