COLLEGE PARK, Md. – A tornado ripped through suburban Washington, D.C., on Monday, killing two students on the University of Maryland campus and injuring at least 50 other people in the area, officials said.
Several buildings were damaged when the tornado touched down about 5:20 p.m. About 16,000 residents in the area lost power, Potomac Electric Power Co. officials said.
Gov. Parris Glendening declared a state of emergency in Prince George’s and Howard counties, allowing state crews to help victims and clean up the damage.
The university evacuated six dormitories, displacing 3,000 students. Those who could not return to their rooms spent the night at a nearby recreation center. The university canceled classes for today.
The two students died when their car overturned outside a dormitory, Prince George’s County fire spokesman Mark Brady said. Their names were not released Monday night.
Elsewhere on campus, seven men were pulled from collapsed trailers belonging to the Maryland Fire Institute, Brady said. Two were taken to a trauma center in Washington, D.C., one with internal injuries and one with head injuries. Their conditions were not immediately known.
Ryan Wirt, 18, a freshman, said he saw the storm approaching, with lightning flashing inside the funnel, as he looked out his dorm window.
“It looked as big as my whole building,” Wirt said.
Windows of a campus dining hall were blown out and a clear path of downed trees, power lines and debris stretched out from the university’s northwestern edge. Overall damage to the campus was “immense,” Brady said.
Near campus, the roofs were blown off a hardware store and a church. Rescue crews were checking to see if people were under fallen debris.
The tornado was part of a storm system that stretched along the entire Interstate 95 corridor between Baltimore and Washington.
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