Iowa: At least one person dead as tornadoes rip through several towns

Tornadoes swept across central Iowa on Saturday, killing one person as they ripping up farms, destroying homes in several towns and sent college football fans running from a stadium for shelter.

Two other people were hospitalized, and a gas leak forced authorities to evacuated part of Stratford, a town of about 746 residents 50 miles (80 kilometers) northwest of Des Moines.

"Half the town's gone," said Bob Smith, who has lived in Stratford for 12 years. He said he ran from his camper as the tornado touched down.

Search teams later found the body of another Stratford resident, Lucille Runyan, 82. Her daughter-in-law said Runyan's son had been with the team that discovered her. Another woman was pulled alive from the rubble, searcher Scott Bergman said. Authorities said at least two dozen homes in the town were destroyed.

In Woodward, 30 miles (48 kilometers) to the south, 20 to 40 homes were severely damaged, Dallas County Sheriff Brian Gilbert.

National Weather Service meteorologist Craig Cogil said it appeared that at least three tornadoes touched down Saturday afternoon.

In Ames, football fans gathering for the Iowa State-Colorado game were cleared from the stands and told to take shelter in the nearby basketball arena as the tornado sirens sounded. The storm hit on the edge of the city, where city spokeswoman Susan Gwiasda said the damage was mostly broken windows and downed power lines.

Tornadoes are rare this late in the year. There have been 23 November tornadoes in Iowa since 1950, all but six of them recorded in the years 1975 and 1988, according to Weather Service records. Last weekend, however, another tornado ripped through western Kentucky and Southwest Indiana, killing 22 people, reported AP. P.T.

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