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Officials investigate after shelter fails to protect tornado victim

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VILONIA, Ark. – An Arkansas woman died inside of her above ground safe room after a violent tornado tore through her town.

A violent EF-4 tornado tore through Vilonia, Arkansas Sunday night damaging and destroying dozens of homes.

The EF-4 tornado killed 15 people in the area, including a woman in her safe room.

The above ground shelter was the only thing left standing in what used to be her home, but it appears to have failed to save the woman seeking shelter.

Now officials are trying to determine what went wrong and if the shelter was FEMA approved.

The National Weather Service is cautioning anyone owning an above ground shelter not to panic and to wait until the investigation is done to find out what went wrong.

Rick Smith from the National Weather Service said, “There are conflicting stories, some of which indicate that the structure may not have been an actual engineered safe room, that the door, locks and hinges may not have been sufficient for use on a storm shelter, and even some question as to whether the door was actually shut and locked. We’re hopeful that a team of engineers and storm shelter experts will soon have an opportunity to inspect the structure and answer some of these questions.”