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Weather service: Tornado hit NY homes where 4 died

SMITHFIELD, N.Y. (AP) — The National Weather Service has confirmed that a tornado destroyed the homes in upstate New York where four people were killed.
Barbara Watson, the meteorologist leading the agency’s survey team says that the violent winds Tuesday were at least 100 mph and reached undetermined higher speeds to cause the damage they’re seeing in the town of Smithfield, between Syracuse and Utica.

She says Wednesday that one two-story home is gone, the structure blown away and leaving only the foundation.

Madison County Sheriff Allen Riley says the home was blown hundreds of feet before it landed on an unoccupied house.

He identified the victims as a 35-year-old woman and her 4-month-old daughter, a 70-year-old woman and a 53-year-old man.

Severe thunderstorms packing strong winds swept through a number of Eastern states on Tuesday, killing five people.

A fireman walks through a debris field in Smithfield, NY., following a storm on Tuesday. Officials in central New York say four people are dead and four homes have been destroyed. (AP Photo/Oneida Daily Dispatch, John Haeger)

[RELATED: Thousands lose power in New Jersey]

In Maryland, a child at a summer camp was killed by a falling tree. Three small tornadoes touched down in Ohio and at least one other was sighted in Pennsylvania, where more than 300,000 lost power at the peak of the storms.

In New York, at least four Smithfield homes were completely destroyed and numerous others were damaged, Undersheriff John Ball said. More information is expected to be released at a news conference Wednesday morning

Early Wednesday, about 72,000 homes and businesses were without power, most in central and northern New York.

Madison County Sheriff Allen Riley did not identify the victims. He told The Post-Standard of Syracuse he was still notifying their families.

The storm destroyed four homes, ripping one from its foundation and tossing it onto another house, the newspaper reported. Three other houses nearby also were damaged. The National Weather Service said the winds were likely stronger than 60 mph.

Riley said in a television interview late Tuesday that search dogs were being used to go over the rubble at the Smithfield site and that neighbors were being interviewed.

“We’re just picking up parts of the house to see if anybody is underneath them,” he said.

National Weather Service meteorologist Joanne LaBounty said investigators will be in the area to determine if a tornado touched down.

The spokesman for the emergency management office said there was widespread damage in the towns of Sullivan and Lenox, between Syracuse and Utica.

In Maryland, a tree fell at a summer camp during a strong thunderstorm, killing one child and injuring six others. The children at the River Valley Ranch camp in Manchester were headed to a shelter when a tree fell on them.

Also, severe thunderstorms spawned at least one tornado in Mercer county in northwestern Pennsylvania, and more than 300,000 homes and businesses lost power at the peak of the storms. Early Wednesday, more than 135,000 across the state remained without power, including 74,000 in Philadelphia and its suburbs. The NWS said possible tornadoes were also reported in Perry, Bedford and Sullivan counties in central Pennsylvania.

The National Weather Service said three small tornadoes touched down in northeastern Ohio, causing minor damage, as strong storms moved across the state.

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