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Tornadoes touch down in central Illinois

File photo | AP

Multiple tornadoes touched down in central Illinois Saturday night, damaging dozens of structures and injuring at least 20 people, according to the National Weather Service.

The twisters occurred Saturday evening along the Illinois River and near Springfield, Meteorologist Chris Geelhart said. The exact number of tornadoes won’t be known until crews survey the damage, beginning Sunday.

One of the towns hardest hit was Taylorville, about 25 miles southeast of Springfield. No fatalities have been reported, but Geelhart says three people were transferred to a Springfield hospital in critical condition.

A map of tornado warnings for central Illinois Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018 | National Weather Service

A wind gust of 75 mph was recorded at 5:30 p.m. in Springfield, breaking the last windspeed record for December set in 1972, the weather service said.

Gov. Bruce Rauner activated the State Emergency Operations Center in response to the storms. Several agencies report to the operations center, including the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, Department of Public Health and the American Red Cross.

“We activated the State Emergency Operations Center so that we could closely monitor the situation, keep in contact with local officials and quickly mobilize any state assets that may be needed,” Rauner said in a statement. “If state assistance is need, we are well-positioned to provide it quickly and efficiently.”