More tornadoes damaged towns in central Indiana, injuring at least five people, as thunderstorms rolled through the midwestern United States on Tuesday evening.
Five people were rescued from the rubble of Utica's Milestone Tap, before the four bodies were recovered, and authorities believed others could still be inside. They said workers were hampered by the century-old building's crumbling, unstable sandstone walls.
Authorities said Wednesday morning they had not had communication from anyone in the tavern for hours.
"We're hoping as we get down through the debris, we're holding hope to find some survivors of this," LaSalle County Sheriff Tom Templeton said at a news conference. "In a few hours, we'll know more."
Cranes have been brought in to help rescue crews search for several people who could be trapped under rubble, reports CBS News Correspondent Jennifer Donelan.
Recovery workers were moving carefully in case there were survivors, Mayor Fred Esmond said.
"You can't just go in there and tear it apart," Esmond said. "You have to do it by hand."
Bill Burke, director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, and Tom Schafer of the Department of Public Health had said as early as Tuesday night that there were four deaths in the community of about 1,000 residents some 90 miles southwest of Chicago. However, they gave no details and the bodies weren't removed until Wednesday.
Preliminary reports said there were a total of 51 tornadoes Tuesday in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska and Oklahoma, according to the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla.
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich visited Utica and two nearby communities Wednesday and declared four counties state disaster areas.
Federal Emergency Management Agency officials planned to visit Thursday to see if they qualify for federal disaster relief, officials said.
In Indiana, officials were surprised by the storms, said Alden Taylor, a spokesman for the State Emergency Management Agency.
"It was warm, but those are what are called popcorn storms that will suddenly appear. It's very difficult to predict them," Taylor said.
Authorities said three to six people suffered minor injuries in Jamestown, Ind., northwest of Indianapolis. The storm reportedly blew as many as four tractor-trailers rigs off highways.
More than 30 teenagers were attending a party in the Kokomo, Ind., Skating Arena when a tornado tore off the building's roof. Employees saw the twister approaching in time to give a warning, and no injuries were reported.
In Utica, dozens of buildings in a three- to four-block area were damaged and several collapsed.
The grade school was one of several buildings that lost roofs. A metal silo at the grain elevator collapsed and a piece of it was wrapped around a stop sign.
"This would equate to what I saw in Plainfield 10 or 15 years ago," said state Trooper Tim Reppin, referring to the Aug. 28, 1990, tornado that killed 29 people and damaged more than 1,000 homes along a 16-mile path near Joliet.
Tuesday's storm also collapsed a drug store roof and destroyed at least one home in Joliet, a small city southwest of Chicago, and damaged about 60 homes and a bank in Granville, near Utica, officials said.