Iowa tornado death toll confirmed as authorities expect number of casualties to rise

Greenfield, Iowa - A "devastating tornado" struck the Iowa town of Greenfield Tuesday, resulting in fatalities and injuries, police said.

A tornado ravaged the Iowa town of Greenfield on Tuesday, killing and injuring multiple people.
A tornado ravaged the Iowa town of Greenfield on Tuesday, killing and injuring multiple people.  © IMAGO / USA TODAY Network

The tornado "devastated a good portion of" Greenfield, a town of about 2,000 residents 45 southwest of Des Moines, Iowa State Patrol Sergeant Alex Dinkla told a news conference.

"Earlier today, the town of Greenfield was struck by a devastating tornado. Local, county, and state emergency responders quickly initiated search and rescue operations once the tornado passed through the area," Dinkla said.

"Sadly, we can confirm that there have been fatalities with this tornado, also injuries have been sustained by residents here in the Greenfield area," he said.

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After searches of the area, "we do believe we have everybody accounted for," he said.

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Iowa authorities said "a good portion" of Greenfield was devastated by the tornado and the town would remain under a curfew Wednesday.
Iowa authorities said "a good portion" of Greenfield was devastated by the tornado and the town would remain under a curfew Wednesday.  © IMAGO / USA TODAY Network

Images on the Des Moines Register website showed scenes of widespread devastation in Greenfield, with numerous homes flattened and reduced to splintered piles of lumber and rubble, with trees also uprooted and cars overturned.

Former Iowa state Rep. Clel Baudler told CNN that there was "basically nothing left."

The town would be under mandatory curfew from 10:00 pm until 7:00 am Wednesday, Dinkla said, adding that the curfew was expected "to last for some time."

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Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed a disaster emergency proclamation for 15 counties in response to the severe weather, including Adair County, which covers Greenfield, her office said.

"(Our)... prayers are with all the communities and families impacted by today's severe weather, and especially those who tragically lost their lives in the Greenfield area," she said in a statement.

"It was just a few weeks ago that tornadoes hit several other Iowa communities, and it's hard to believe that it's happened again."

Reynolds said she planned to visit Greenfield on Wednesday to assess the damage and was committed to providing all the necessary resources.

UPDATE, May 23, 2 AM ET: Authorities confirm number of casualties

At least five people were killed and 35 more were injured by the tornado that destroyed large parts of Greenfield, with authorities expecting the numbers to rise again.
At least five people were killed and 35 more were injured by the tornado that destroyed large parts of Greenfield, with authorities expecting the numbers to rise again.  © REUTERS

The Iowa Department of Public Safety has confirmed that at least five people were killed and 35 more were injured after Tuesday's events.

"The number of those injured is likely higher, but these numbers reflect only those patients treated for their injuries at designated alternate care sites," the statement continued.

Four of the victims are from the Greenfield area, while a fifth was killed about 25 miles from the town.

The National Weather Service Des Moines put the intensity of the tornado at EF-3 on a scale of 0 to 5 on the Fujita scale. The scale measures the intensity of a tornado based on the amount of damage caused.

"Additional damage evaluation will continue over the next several days and results are subject to change," the service said in a post on social media platform X. "Additional tornado paths and ratings will be added as data continues to be collected."

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Deanne Criswell on Thursday would travel to Iowa to "meet with local officials and affected residents and survey the damage."

"We are praying for those who tragically lost their lives as deadly tornadoes that... ripped through Iowa," Jean-Pierre said in a press briefing in Washington. "We are also wishing a speedy recovery to those who were injured."

Cover photo: REUTERS

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