A woman walks down Black Hills Trail road in Pilger, Neb., Monday, June 16, 2014.
Warning: This story contains graphic images.
At least two people are dead, including a 5-year-old child, and at least 19 are injured after twin tornadoes tore through the small town of Pilger, Nebraska on Monday.
Soon after a tornado watch was issued for northeastern Nebraska on Monday, a massive thunderstorm spawned at least two tornadoes at the same time near Pilger, a town of about 350 people, around 4:20 p.m. local time.
The two twisters touched down within roughly a mile of each other, according to the National Weather Service. Emergency crews and residents spent the evening sifting through rubble for survivors. The storm ripped apart more than half of the structures in the town, which is roughly 100 miles northwest of Omaha.
Stanton County Sheriff Mike Unger estimated that 50% to 75% of Pilger was heavily damaged or destroyed in the storm. The local school is likely beyond repair, he said.
"It's total devastation," Unger said.
Officials won't know the intensity of the storms until late Tuesday at the earliest, after crews have examined the area, Barbara Mayes, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, told the Associated Press.
Victims were taken to three regional hospitals, and at least one had died from unspecified injuries, hospital officials said.
Although rare, the phenomenon of simultaneous multiple tornadoes associated with the same severe thunderstorm is not unheard of. However, it is extremely unusual, perhaps even unheard of, for both tornadoes to be so intense and long-lasting.
A more common phenomenon is to have so-called "satellite tornadoes" rotating around a main funnel, but in this case, it appears there were two independent, long-lived and powerful tornadoes about 1 to 2 miles apart.