Multiple tornadoes damage homes, buildings across Illinois

CHICAGO – Powerful storms packing multiple tornadoes swept through parts of the Midwest Wednesday night, damaging homes and a gas station in central Illinois and sending tens of thousands of soccer fans seeking shelter during the Copa America semifinal in Chicago.

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Chuck Schoop, emergency manager for Livingston County in central Illinois, said a tornado destroyed the canopy of a gas station and damaged at least four homes in or just outside Pontiac. There were only minor injuries reported, although a couple had been temporarily trapped inside one of the homes, Schoop said.

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    The National Weather Service reported another tornado touched down, near the northern Illinois cities of Amboy in Lee County and Earlville in LaSalle County. There are small towns scattered throughout the area surrounded by farm fields.

    Wind gusts were projected to be 113 km/h or greater in some places, and baseball-size hail was possible, according to the weather service’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.

    The strong band of thunderstorms moving forced a two-hour delay in Chile’s 2-0 victory over Colombia in the Copa America semifinal at Soldier Field, the home of the Chicago Bears football team. Fans were told to go beneath the stands for shelter.

    Fans also were told to take shelter at Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins, before their game against the Philadelphia Phillies resumed after a 70-minute delay.

    The Chicago Department of Aviation said 325 flights in and out of O’Hare International Airport were cancelled and 90-minute delays were reported. Airlines at Midway International Airport cancelled about 70 flights, with 60-minute delays.

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    Commonwealth Edison spokesman Anita Martinez said about 15,000 customers remained without power in northern Illinois Wednesday night.

    Some parts of the country, including New Jersey, were already dealing with the aftermath of earlier storms.

    Utility crews in the southern part of the state were restoring power to homes and businesses. Atlantic City Electric said nearly 6,000 homes and businesses remained without power Wednesday, down from more than 34,000 customers on Tuesday.

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