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Salt Lake City, UT August 11–A tornado ripped through downtown Salt Lake City, UT, early this afternoon, reaping destruction and leveling a large part of the Outdoor Retailer trade show.
Some 15,000 members of the outdoor, skiing, and winter sports industries converge on the annual five-day trade show in August.
Vendors and exhibitors were setting up about 2,500 booths and displays in the two pavilions that flank the Salt Palace Convention Center when the twister hit.
One eyewitness who did not want to be identified reported that while she was in a booth in pavilion two, the tornado hit without any warning. Immediately, she dove beside a steel box that eventually saved her, when the support beams collapsed and brought down the tent. After digging herself out from under the rubble, she could see and hear people in close proximity buried beneath the debris.
In addition to leveling one pavilion and badly damaging the other, the tornado also tore roofs of the Delta Canter and the Salt Palace. The storm also blew out the windows of the nearby Wyndham Hotel.
Authorities from the Salt Lake City fire department report that there is one person dead and at least 100 injured.
Witnesses reported that there was no warning, and it sounded like someone turned a huge air conditioner on full blast. Although the tornado lasted only 20-30 seconds, many said that it seemed like it lasted an hour.
The trade show is postponed until Friday, August 13, and organizers expect it will be much smaller than planned.
For information regarding injured persons, call 801-533-0533.