Twisters cause deaths, severe damage in heartland

By: The Associated Press
By: The Associated Press

Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012

HARRISBURG, Ill. (AP) -- Entire blocks of homes in Illinois and Kansas are flattened after a storm system brought tornadoes to the nation's heartland in the early morning hours.

Six people were killed in the southern Illinois town of Harrisburg. Three others died in Missouri.

A meteorologist says the storm that hit Harrisburg was 200 yards wide with winds up to 170 miles an hour. The winds were strong enough to blow the walls off some rooms at the Harrisburg Medical Center. The hospital discharged patients who could be moved, even as medical personnel dealt with the influx of injured.

Much of the eastern Kansas town of Harveyville was left in rubble, after a tornado that state officials say had wind speeds up to 130 miles an hour.

An apparent tornado took roofs off hotels in Branson, Mo., and damaged some music theaters. Dozens of injuries, mostly minor, were reported. Officials in Branson are thankful that the storm didn't hit during the peak tourist season, when the damaged hotels would have been full.

(Copyright 2012, The Associated Press)

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