Tornado warning forces 3 world leaders into basement

Associated Press

Little Rock, Ark. — Three former world leaders were forced to take shelter in the lower level of an Arkansas high school after tornado sirens blared during a graduation ceremony for the Presidential Leadership Scholars Program.

Former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton and former Britain Prime Minister Tony Blair were attending the ceremony at Little Rock’s Central High School when the storm struck Thursday night. The attendees were moved to the lower level of the high school, and a spokesman for Clinton says the three leaders also took shelter downstairs, away from the crowd.

The powerful thunderstorm downed trees and power lines throughout Little Rock, but no major damage or injuries were reported. Once the storm passed, the leaders went to the Clinton Presidential Center for a dinner with the presidential scholars.

Speaking Friday, Blair said it was a memorable start to his first visit to Little Rock.

“Your weather is interesting,” he said, eliciting big laughs during a lecture at Clinton’s presidential library.

He added that he was asked Thursday if he’d ever experienced a tornado in England.

“We have the odd gust of wind, but that was quite something last night,” he said.