Possible Tornado Slams Downtown Atlanta

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) _ A severe storm ripped through downtown Atlanta
last night, damaging skyscrapers, hotels and two major sports
arenas filled with thousands of pro and college basketball fans.

National Weather Service officials called the storm a possible
tornado. Winds were clocked at up to 60 mph as the storm moved
through the city.

Numerous windows were broken at CNN Center. Authorities say at
least 27 people were transported to hospitals with injuries, though
none were believed to be life threatening.

Authorities say most of the damage was concentrated in downtown
Atlanta.

All downtown events -- including the city's St. Patrick's Day
parade -- are canceled because of debris scattered throughout
downtown and the possibility of falling glass from buildings.

In an Atlanta neighborhood called Cabbagetown, a loft apartment
building called The Stacks -- built in an old cotton mill -- had
severe damage to one corner, and appeared to have major roof
damage.

Atlanta City Council President Lisa Borders said that so far,
city officials were not aware of any deaths from the storm.

Atlanta Fire Department Capt. Bill May said the department was
working ``multiple incidents'' from East Atlanta to downtown.

At the Georgia Dome, where Mississippi State was playing the
University of Alabama in a Southeastern Tournament basketball game,
catwalks swayed and insulation fell from the roof, sending fans
fleeing toward the exits and the teams to their locker rooms.

The game resumed after a delay of about an hour, but the final
scheduled game of the night, between the University of Georgia and
the University of Kentucky, was postponed.

``I thought it was a tornado or a terrorist attack,'' said
Mississippi State guard Ben Hansbrough, who was guarding Alabama's
Mykal Riley when a rumbling noise was heard from above.

There was also damage at nearby Philips Arena, where the Atlanta
Hawks were playing the Los Angeles Clippers.

Georgia Power Co. spokeswoman Consuela Monroe said about 10,000
customers had lost power in the Atlanta area.


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