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Two grandparents have been killed and five of their family members have been injured in Florida early on 18 January 2016 when severe storms gusted in from the Gulf of Mexico, spinning off at least two tornadoes, local officials and the National Weather Service have said.
Steven Wilson, 58, died immediately when a twister destroyed a mobile home with seven people inside in Duette, Florida, the Manatee County Sheriff's Office said. Steven's wife Kelli, 51, escaped with their son and four grandchildren but was later pronounced dead at a hospital after suffering a heart attack, said Dave Bristow, a spokesman for the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.
The four grandchildren – two boys and two girls between the ages of six and 10 – and their father were admitted to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, according to the sheriff's office. One of the children was severely injured, the National Weather Service's Tampa office reported, also confirming that a strong tornado blasting winds up to 127mph had touched down in the area at around 3.30am local time.
A neighbour of the family, Randy Sharp, paid a tearful tribute to the couple: "Steve would do anything in the world for anybody, any time," he told reporters at the scene. "They were just wonderful people. The world's not going to be the same without them."
Another tornado was reported further south on Florida's west coast in Siesta Key, according to the weather service. The storms dumped heavy rains and blasted strong winds across the state's central Gulf Coast, but conditions were improving as the day went on.
We originally reported that four children had been injured; this has now been corrected to five family members.