Storms blamed for several deaths

Storms claim at least five lives, with massive property damage

HARRISBURG, Ill | February 29, 2012

Midwest storms apparently claimed at least five lives, with massive property damage, officials said Wednesday.

KFVS-TV, Cape Girardeau, Mo., said three people were killed in Harrisburg, Ill., after what may have been a tornado swept through the region. In Missouri two people died, one each in Stoddard and Dallas counties.

KFVS reported 35 to 40 homes destroyed in the Harrisburg area, and emergency crews were looking for three to five missing people.

The report said mattresses were hanging from the trees, and windows and doors were blown out of the local Walmart. Some semi-tractor trailer trucks were tipped over.

In Stoddard County, Sheriff Carl Hefner told the broadcaster several mobile homes were destroyed.

Also in Missouri, Dallas County Emergency Management said one person died Wednesday south of Buffalo, KLOR-TV, Springfield, Mo., reported. The circumstances surrounding the death weren't reported.

Hospital personnel reported at least 15 people were injured from a possible tornado south of Buffalo. Officials said the storm also snapped power lines and destroyed at least one home.

In the popular resort community of Branson, Mo., firefighters reported several buildings collapsed or sustained major structural damage because of a tornado, including a hotel, restaurant and gas station, reported.

In Kansas, Gov. Sam Brownback declared a state of emergency for the community of Harveyville, where officials said an "apparent tornado" injured nine people Tuesday, CNN reported.

Several homes and a church were damaged, and numerous reports were made of trees and power lines down throughout the area, the Kansas Adjutant General's Department said.

CNN said there were reports of a tornado near Hutchinson, Kan., and another in central Nebraska.

While the Plains faced the risk of tornadoes, hail and damaging winds, residents of the northern Plains and upper Midwest saw heavy snow, sleet and freezing rain, reported.

An influx of warm air from the south prompted weather forecasters to revise predictions of 5-14 inches of snow in Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area to forecasts of rain, ice pellets an sleet, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported Wednesday.

The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport reported numerous flights were delayed. Schools and community programs were either canceled or on a two-hour delay.

2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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