Rochelle - At least one large tornado touched down in northern Illinois, killing one person and injuring seven others in a small community as severe weather pummelled the Midwest.
The system, packing hail and damaging winds, was headed east early Friday as storms rumbled through the Midwest and Plains during the region's first widespread bout of severe weather.
The severe weather forced the cancellation on Thursday of more than 850 flights at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport and dozens of others at the city's Midway International Airport.
One person was killed in the tiny community of Fairdale, James Joseph with the Illinois Department of Emergency Management said.
Rockford fire department division chief Matthew Knott told ABC7-TV that at least seven people were injured. Knott says "every single" one of the approximately 50 structures in Fairdale has been damaged, and that "most" had been flattened.
He said emergency personnel were going house to house, sorting through debris and looking for other victims.
The National Weather Service tweeted around 19:00 that a tornado was on the ground in nearby Rochelle and urged residents to seek shelter immediately.
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Robin Biggs, an employee at the Super 8 motel in Rochelle, which is about 128km west of Chicago, said she took video of the storm, which she said "took everything out in its path."
Ogle county sheriff Brian Van Vickle said in a news conference that about 20 homes there were severely damaged or destroyed, but no deaths or significant injuries were reported.
Van Vickle said 12 people were trapped in the basement of Grubsteakers, a Rochelle restaurant that collapsed during the storm.
One of those rescued from the restaurant, Raymond Kramer, aged 81, told Chicago's WLS-TV that he was trapped with 11 others in the storm cellar for 90 minutes. They were freed only after emergency crews removed debris that had fallen over them. He said none of those rescued was injured.
The Weather Service in Davenport, Iowa, said it had received multiple reports of tornadoes in the far eastern part of the state.