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Four killed by tornado at camp were Boy Scouts

(CNN) -- Boy Scouts dived under picnic tables and were buried under a collapsed chimney when a deadly tornado hit their camp in western Iowa, survivors said Thursday morning.

The tornado at the Little Sioux Scout Ranch killed three 13-year-old Scouts and a 14-year-old staff member who also was a Scout, said Lloyd Roitstein, president of the Boy Scouts of Mid-America Council. Forty-eight Scouts and staff members were injured.

Possible tornadoes also struck northeastern Kansas, killing at least two people, injuring many others and damaging buildings at Kansas State University.

Rob Logsdon, a 15-year-old staff member at the camp, said although he was injured, he rescued some of his fellow Boy Scouts trapped underneath the collapsed chimney.

"I was standing up trying to pull bricks off the kids that were sitting there, and then I couldn't do any more because my hip and leg were hurting so badly," Logsdon told CNN's "American Morning."

He dislocated his hip, sprained his ankle and suffered a gash in his knee when the tornado struck the shelter.

"We were sitting there watching lightning ... and we saw it [the tornado] come around the end of a bluff toward the entrance of the camp," Logsdon said. "So we flipped on the siren and the youth staff members ran to the assigned shelters."

The adult leader ordered everyone to get under the tables.

"All of a sudden, two seconds later, the tornado was on top of us," Logsdon said. "I know it picked up our adult leader's car and threw it 50 yards, easy."

Camper Ben Karschner said it was over quickly.

"Eight seconds, and the tornado passed. That was like the longest eight seconds I've ever had," he told CNN affiliate KETV in Omaha, Nebraska.

Thomas White, an 18-year-old staff member, said he lay in a ditch with several of the younger scouts as the tornado roared through.

"The grace of God helped us for sure," he said.

Logsdon said one of his friends was among the four killed.

"I went back to Little Sioux after I got out of the hospital, and his dad had just found out he died," he said. "He was my staff partner and he was a good kid, and it's a big loss. He was a great kid."

Iowa Public Safety Commissioner Gene Meyer said 93 campers and 25 staff were at the camp when the storm struck about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. All have been accounted for, he said, but the 1,800-acre park was still being searched Thursday morning.

Roitstein, the Boy Scouts official, said the Scouts at the ranch were advanced Scouts between 13 and 18 years old and were there for a week of training. He said all of them were staying in tents and that the site is destroyed.

"All of the buildings are gone; most of the tents are gone; most of the trees are destroyed," Roitstein said. "You've got 1,800 acres of property that are destroyed right now."

The ranch, which has four cabin shelters in addition to camping space, is about 45 miles north of Omaha and 45 miles south of Sioux City, Iowa.

Iowa Gov. Chet Culver said he was proud of how the Scouts reacted.

"After the tornado hit, these young men responded," Culver told KETV. "They helped their Scouts in need of medical assistance. They essentially set up their own little triage unit -- very inspiring.

"And it's not a surprise," he added. "This is a Scout leadership academy for the best and most outstanding young men."

The storm that struck Kansas State University's campus destroyed a wind erosion lab, damaged several engineering and science buildings and tore the roof off a fraternity house at the school in Manhattan, said Cheryl May, the university's director of media relations.

"Our campus is kind of a mess," she said.

The storm destroyed up to 50 homes and damaged hundreds in Manhattan, said Lt. Kurt Moldrup of the Riley County Police Department.

"We had a lot of damage, but very few injuries," he said.

A man was killed outside Soldier, Kansas -- about 50 miles north of Topeka -- said Sharon Watson, a spokeswoman for the state emergency management agency. His body was found outside his mobile home, she said.

A woman was killed in Chapman, Kansas, her body found in a yard, Watson said.

"The town took a direct hit," she said.

The storm destroyed 60 houses in Chapman, she said. Another 30 suffered major damage, and about 30 received minor damage, she said, citing early estimates from the American Red Cross.

The storms struck as Midwestern states deal with severe flooding along the upper Mississippi River.

Heavy downpours hit the region over the weekend, with more thunderstorms predicted for Thursday morning.

Flooding in the Iowa cities of Des Moines, Waterloo, Cedar Falls and other areas prompted mandatory evacuation orders and sandbagging in the state on Wednesday.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff is expected to attend a noon news conference with Iowa's Gov. Culver.

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