ST. LOUIS — At least five people were killed an an unknown number of others were hurt when a large tornado tore through an area of southeastern Missouri before dawn on Wednesday, authorities said.
The twister caused significant destruction in and around the small rural communities of Glen Allen and Grassy, Bollinger County Sheriff Casey A. Graham said in a post on his office's Facebook account.
At least five people were killed, Graham wrote, noting that he was withholding the names of the dead to make sure their families could be notified first.
Crews from several agencies are searching through the rubble of destroyed and damaged homes, authorities said.
Justin Gibbs, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Paducah, Kentucky, said the tornado remained on the ground for roughly 15 minutes, traveling an estimated 15-20 miles (24-32 kilometers).
A weather service team was headed to Bollinger County to gather details about the tornado, but Gibbs said it’s clear “it was big. It was a significant tornado.”
He noted that tornadoes are especially dangerous when they touch down late at night or early in the morning, as this one did.
“It’s definitely a nightmare from a warning standpoint,” Gibbs said. “It’s bad anytime, but it’s especially bad at 3:30 in the morning.”