WINNIPEG — Two 18-year-olds are dead after police believe they were thrown from their car during a tornado near Virden, Man. on Friday evening.
According to RCMP, officers responded to reports of a tornado touching down near Highway 83 and Road 50N in the Rural Municipality of Pipestone, located approximately 16 kilometres south of Virden, around 8:10 p.m.
RCMP said a farm property had suffered extensive damage from the tornado and that two vehicles had been carried away and thrown into a nearby field.
After searching the first vehicle, found closer to the highway, officers located a 54-year-old man, from the Sioux Valley Dakota First Nation. He was taken to hospital with serious but non-life threatening injuries.
Several cars were thrown by a tornado near Virden, Man., killing two people. (Source: CTV News/Danton Unger)
While searching the surrounding area, RCMP found an 18-year-old male and an 18-year-old female, both from Melita. They were both pronounced dead at the scene.
RCMP believe the pair were ejected from the vehicle during the storm.
Officials called STARS Air Ambulance to assist with the flipped car, but a spokesperson said the organization cancelled the mission since it wasn’t required.
RCMP continued to search the area for other possible victims, but none were located.
Sean Schofer, a storm chaser from Saskatchewan, said he watched the tornado rip through a farm and throw a few vehicles.
“It threw two different vehicles, one into the ditch. There were two occupants trapped in there,” he said. “Plus, there were downed power lines around the vehicle also, so that hampered the rescue operation.
“About 200 yards from the [other] field, it threw another vehicle into the ditch,” he added. “Unfortunately, as it threw [the car], its occupant [were] thrown from the vehicle.”
Schofer said this particular tornado was one of the largest he’s ever seen in western Canada.
Aaron Jayjack, who is also a storm chaser, said he knew a tornado was coming when he started to hear the roar of it develop.
“This funnel came down, and it fully condensed down in the field,” said Jayjack.
He added the twister was on the ground for about 10 to 15 minutes.
“This was a major tornado. A strong one, maybe an EF3 or EF4.”
Tornados are measured on an Enhanced Fujita scale, and Jayjack said this size of tornado is on the rarer end to see.
The tornado toppled over and crushed several grain bins.
Manitoba Hydro said the tornado missed critical transmission lines, but damaged nine poles and several kilometres of power lines.
The company has about 30 staff working on repairs and is hoping to restore power to all customers by Saturday evening.
Manitoba Hydro spokesperson Bruce Owen asks people that if they see any power line equipment blown away from the storm, to call 1-888-624-9376.
Environment Canada has not come out with an official weather summary.
The weather service told CTV News it couldn’t determine wind speeds until it surveys the damage. It did say there was hen egg sized hail, about five centimetres, in Virden at 7:48 p.m.
-With files from CTV’s Devon Mckendrick and Danton Unger