CAPE CHARLES, Va. (WJLA/ABC News/AP) - A fierce tornado packing powerful winds of up to 100 miles an hour toppled trees and flipped campers Thursday at a campground along Virginia's Eastern Shore, killing at least two people and sending 36 more to hospitals, authorities said.
The two deceased were identified as a Jersey City, New Jersey couple - Lord Balatbat and Lolabeth Ortega - who died when a tree fell on their tent. In a tent next to them, their 13-year-old son suffered life-threatening injuries and was hospitalized in critical condition.
Of the dozens of others hurt, hospitals in the region said the injuries ranged mostly from cuts to broken bones.
It was around 9 a.m. when the confirmed F1 tornado slammed into the Cherrystone Family Camping & RV Resort, which sits on 300 acres on the Chesapeake Bay in rural Northampton County.
More than 1,300 people were at the campground when the twister hit, which happened about 10 minutes after the National Weather Service had issued a tornado warning for the area.
"It came in real quick," Eastville volunteer firefighter Brittney Eder said."The sky turned jet black."
"All hell broke loose," added camper Joe Colony, who has been coming to the campground for 30 years. "We got an emergency message on a cellphone and within 30 seconds, the thing hit and it blew down 40, 50 trees in the park."
The tornado was part of a string of thunderstorms that hit the region. The storms formed over Chesapeake Bay, producing a waterspout that moved on shore as a tornado.
The storm system, which also produced hail about an inch in diameter, lasted for nearly four hours.
Coast Guard crews reported some boats had overturned in the water in the area and credited Good Samaritans with pulling out at least three people to safety.