- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 25, 2007

EAGLE PASS, Texas (AP) — Search teams worked their way through wreckage-strewn neighborhoods along the Texas-Mexico border yesterday after a tornado killed at least 10 persons, destroyed two schools and damaged hundreds of homes.

The same storm system was later blamed for a lightning-strike fire that killed a person in Louisiana and for flooding in the Midwest.

Five of the tornado victims died when the storm slammed their mobile home against a school building in Eagle Pass, said Maverick County Judge Jose Aranda.

“It was a whole family, and they were all together, probably like they were huddling,” said police Officer Ezekiel Navjas.

Judge Aranda said the victims were a girl between 4 and 6 years old, her parents and two other adult relatives.

Just across the Rio Grande, in Piedras Negras, Mexico, three persons died in the storm, said Oscar Murillo, the city’s civil protection director. At least 87 others were injured, and 300 homes were damaged. About 1,000 people sought refuge in shelters.

Three years ago, a tornado killed 32 persons when it hit Piedras Negras.

Several mobile homes were missing yesterday from Eagle Pass, a community of about 26,000 residents, officials said, and more than 70 people were reported injured.

As the huge weather system plowed through the Mississippi and Ohio valleys, a bolt of lightning started a fire near Shreveport, La., that killed a 101-year-old man, authorities and the man’s family said.

The severe weather also spun off tornadoes Tuesday in Oklahoma and Colorado, caused flooding in Iowa and Nebraska and piled snow more than a foot deep in the Rockies.

The tornado that struck the rural Rosita Valley area outside Eagle Pass destroyed two schools, City Councilman Ramsey English Cantu told AP Radio yesterday. Nobody was in the schools at the time, officials said.

“There was one elementary that was destroyed,” he said. “We have behind that a literacy academy for younger individuals that’s like a preschool. That’s not even standing, just completely leveled.”

Teams were still assessing the damage yesterday morning in the border area about 150 miles southwest of San Antonio. National Guard units attached to the Border Patrol were assisting local agencies in their door-to-door search and rescue efforts, said Fire Chief Rogelio de la Cruz.

“It’s the worst I’ve seen,” said Ricardo Tijerina, 38, who rode out the storm in a house near the school with his six children. He said he watched the storm destroy a mobile home across the street, but all of that home’s residents survived.

Elsewhere, as much as 3.5 inches of rain fell Tuesday on western and central Iowa, washing out roads, flooding basements and causing at least one landslide that buried part of Interstate 29 in Sioux City in trees and mud. No vehicles were driving through the spot when the mudslide happened, officials said.

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