A powerful tornado shredded homes and killed at least one person in a small Kansas town on Tuesday, as severe weather threatened millions of people across the region.

The tornado hit Westmoreland, a community of about 700, roughly 100 miles west of Kansas City, at about 4:40 p.m., Pottawatomie County officials said.The storm left at least one person dead, destroyed at least 22 homes and damaged another 13, according to Vivienne Leyva, a public information officer for nearby Riley County. Additionally, four commercial buildings were destroyed and another was damaged, Ms. Leyva said.

Westmoreland was the only community struck by the tornado, she added. The destruction came amid a night of severe weather across the Central United States. More than four million people were under a severe thunderstorm or tornado watch Tuesday night, according to the National Weather Service.

Officials were still assessing damage Tuesday night. Three people were injured and search-and-rescue efforts were still underway, officials said at a news conference.

“It took the north half of the town. It really did,” Shane Jager, the sheriff in Pottawatomie County, said.

The tornado lashed the town for at least 15 minutes, Ms. Leyva said, though county officials were still waiting for assessments by the Weather Service on the duration and strength of the storm.

A temporary shelter for displaced residents was set up at a local high school, and neighboring counties and residents were pouring in resources to support the community, she said.

Harrowing videos posted to social media showed a long vortex bearing down from the dark sky, tearing the ground below and sending debris into orbit.


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