Four Boy Scouts killed in Iowa tornado

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

A major storm suspected to be a tornado has reportedly killed four Boy Scouts camping at the Little Sioux Scout Ranch in Little Sioux, Iowa. Roughly ninety-five Scouts aged thirteen to eighteen and twenty-five adult staff members were believed to be camping at the time the alarm was raised. Most of the scouts were from Omaha-Metro Area, including Omaha and Bellevue, Nebraska and Council Bluffs, Iowa. It is believed that the scouts had as little as twelve minutes to seek shelter from the time the alarm began to the time the storm hit. Early reports stated that thirty to forty scouts had been injured, that number was later reduced to twenty.

A spokesman for the Boy Scouts of America's Mid American Council, the region in which the camp was situated, has stated that the storm activated sirens but she couldn't confirm whether the scouts were staying in tents or buildings.

The Scouts were participating in a training exercise at the 1,800 acre ranch roughly 40 miles northeast of Omaha. Julie Tack, a spokesperson for Iowa Homeland Security, stated that the camp was littered with debris and downed tree branches after being struck by a tornado at or around 7:00 PM Central Daylight Time. Tack went on to say that a search and rescue team had been deployed to the area.

Camp counselors have stated that they were aware of the possibilities that storm was coming and they had heard the tornado sirens going off. There was no underground shelter for the scouts, however they had shelters designated and emergency plans had been discussed the first day of camp. Officials said most of the boys were on a hike when storms moved in.

A camp staff member said that many scouts were injured when a fireplace in one of the shelters collapsed. Most of the injured scouts were treated at hospitals in Sioux City and Missouri Valley, Iowa. Six scouts were brought to the Missouri Valley hospital, most treated for minor injuries and broken bones. One scout suffered a broken hip and was transferred to Creighton University Medical Center in Omaha.

Mercy Medical Center, in Sioux City, have reported two patients arriving by helicopter at 8:13 PM with a third arriving by ambulance. A fourth patient arrived later, again by helicopter. A spokesman for the hospital said the victims are all juveniles and all have serious injuries. Mercy does not expect to receive more camp victims. The names of the victims have not been released.


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