WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A likely tornado tore through an eastern Virginia campground on Thursday, killing two people and injuring 31 as it downed trees and overturned vehicles, officials said.
The storm swept across the Chesapeake Bay and slammed into the seaside Cherrystone Campground at Cape Charles, Virginia, during the busy summer season, bringing hail, high winds and heavy rain.
“It was very scary, a lot of people were still in their beds” when the storm struck, area resident Amanda Blankenship told ABC affiliate WVEC-TV in Hampton Roads, Virginia.
Photos on WVEC showed vehicles overturned or their roofs smashed in by fallen trees at the campground about 100 miles south of Washington at the tip of the Delmarva Peninsula.
One man told the station he was inside a motor home that began to shake from side to side as high winds tossed debris outside.
“The damage is like being in a war zone,” the man said.
The state medical examiner said two people had been killed and 31 were injured, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management said on its Facebook page.
The campground was evacuated and campers bused to a shelter, the department said.
State emergency officials said about 1,300 people were staying at the site.
James Foster, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wakefield, Virginia, said the storm likely was a tornado that originated in mainland Virginia.
It gained strength as it moved east across the Chesapeake Bay and then struck the campground, he said. The weather service put out a tornado warning at 8:20 a.m., and the twister hit a few minutes later, he said.
The Cherrystone website covers about 300 acres and includes cottages, RV sites and boat rentals. No one answered a phone call to the campground.
Additional reporting by Gary Robertson in Richmond, Virginina; Editing by Bill Trott, Susan Heavey and Peter Cooney