April 29, 2008 / 12:14 AM / 12 years ago

Tornadoes hit Virginia, 200 injured

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Three tornadoes swept through central and southeastern Virginia on Monday, injuring about 200 people and damaging dozens of homes and businesses, officials said.

A firefighter is seen outside a strip mall that was destroyed after a tornado hit Suffolk, Virginia, April 28, 2008. REUTERS/The Virginian-Pilot/Steve Earley/Handout

The city of Suffolk in the southeastern part of the state was hardest hit by the late afternoon storms, said Virginia Department of Emergency Management spokeswoman Laura Southard. She said earlier reports of a fatality in linked to the severe weather were incorrect.

Injuries and damage were also reported in Colonial Heights in central Virginia, Southard said.

The National Weather Service (NWS) said three confirmed tornadoes plowed through the region.

“One of the tornadoes hit the Lawrenceville area in Brunswick County,” said NWS meteorologist Brian Hurley. “The second tornado developed to the north of Colonial Heights ... The other more significant tornado occurred in the city of Suffolk.”

Television pictures showed extensive property damage — flattened homes, and lawns and streets covered in piles of debris and toppled trees.

“There are trees down everywhere and I’ve seen a half-dozen vehicles flipped over,” Richard Hicks of Suffolk told the Virginian-Pilot newspaper.

Another witness in Suffolk, Robert Brinkley, told the newspaper: “There are tops blown off the roofs of many, many houses.”

More than 3,000 Dominion Virginia Power customers were without service, most in scattered outages throughout the southeastern part of the state, the newspaper said.

Virginia Gov. Timothy Kaine declared a statewide emergency to coordinate the state’s response to what his office said was widespread damage in the wake of storms.

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