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Deadly Tornadoes Rip Through Missouri

Violent storms tore through four Midwestern states, killing three people in northern Missouri, damaging dozens of homes and leaving thousands without power.

Kirksville apparently took the hardest hit Wednesday night. Police Detective Sgt. Ron Celian said about 30 to 40 homes were damaged, one was destroyed and an auto dealership sustained significant damage.

Lynne Sanders told the Kirksville Daily Express she took shelter in a bathtub while a tornado flipped one of her sheds, destroyed another and sucked up a barn while leaving the horses inside.

"It was just awful, simply awful," she said. "The whole house was just rocking."

Sullivan County Emergency Management director Rick Gardner said a woman was killed Wednesday night when what appeared to be a tornado struck a mobile home east of Milan in Sullivan County.

Two other people died in neighboring Adair County, said communications operator Tammy Babcock of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. She called all three deaths are tornado-related.

Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Brent Bernhardt said the Adair County sheriff flew over the area to inspect the damage and said in some places the tornado was only 500 feet wide.

"It was not wide," Bernhardt said. "It would be on the ground and then come back up and be on the ground again."

Photos: Missouri Tornadoes
A fireman checks for occupants in what use to be a kitchen of a house that was hit by a tornado that touched down in Lakeside Estates Wednesday May 13, 2009 in Kirksville, Mo. (Photo: AP)

In Caddo County in southwest Oklahoma, a possible tornado damaged homes and businesses in Gracemont and Anadarko, authorities said.

Dozens of inmates were evacuated from the Caddo County jail because of a gas line break, said Caddo County Emergency Management Director Larry McDuffey.

In northeast Oklahoma, a 100 mph wind gust was recorded west of the Bartlesville airport in Washington County, authorities said. The high winds downed trees and power lines, with 8,000 power outages reported at one point.

Central Indiana saw wind gusts of up to 60 mph and street flooding was reported in Vincennes, Linton and Rockville, authorities said. Utilities reported 8,000 were without power in and around Indianapolis early Thursday.

In Illinois, a range of windy storms dumped as much as 3 inches of rain within 50 minutes. National Weather Service meteorologist Ed Shimon called the accumulation "unbelievable," comparing it to heavy rainfall in the tropics.

The storm was continuing in southern Illinois early Thursday, with lightning, heavy rain and strong wind gusts, Shimon said.

The latest storms come less than a week after another batch of severe weather, including at least a dozen confirmed tornadoes, ravaged parts of southern Missouri. Those storms killed four people and damaged or destroyed several hundred homes.