A "large and extremely dangerous" tornado has hit the city of Washington, Illinois, with pictures showing buildings reduced to rubble and homes torn in half in a city of 15,000 people some 145 miles away from Chicago.
The National Weather Service also confirmed tornadoes touched down near Bone Gap and Miller City, Illinois, in Mount Carmel, Indiana, near the Ohio border, in Vincennes, Indiana, and in Paducah, Kentucky.
A tornado watch for the Chicago metropolitan area was cancelled.
Sara Sparkman, a spokeswoman for the health department of Tazewell County, Illinois, where Washington is located, said: "We have reports of homes being flattened, roofs being torn off.
"We have actual whole neighborhoods being demolished by the storm. Fortunately, we are only hearing of minor injuries at this time."
More top news
A mother and daughter have been rescued after four days in the New Zealand bush, after their 'HELP' sign was spotted by a helicopter.
A group of hooded youths have clashed with police in Paris at a May Day rally against proposed labour reforms.
Tonight a band of cloud and rain will spread into Scotland and Northern Ireland before reaching all parts of the country tomorrow.