Deadly Storm Spawns Tornadoes Across Midwest

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A powerful storm system that produced multiple reports of tornadoes struck the Midwest Tuesday night, killing at least 11 people in Illinois and Missouri.

Officials said an apparent tornado rocked Branson, Mo., just after 1 a.m., ripping roofs off of hotels and damaging some of the city's famous music theaters.

More than 30 people were injured, mostly with cuts and bruises.

The storm struck just prior to the start of the start of the city's spring tourist season.

"If it was a week later, it'd be a different story," said Bill Tirone, assistant general manager for the 530-room Hiltons of Branson and the Branson Convention Center.

The hotel's windows were shattered and some rooms had furniture sucked away by high winds. Workers were able to get all of their guests to safety as the storm raged.

John Moore, owner of a local diner that was damaged in the storm, said the tornado seemed to target the city's main strip as it appeared "jump side to side."

"The theater next to me kind of exploded. It went everywhere. The hotels on the two sides of me lost their roofs. Power lines are down. Windows are blown out," Moore said. "There's major, major destruction. There has to be millions dollars of damage all down the strip."

From Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, at least 16 tornado sightings were reported from Nebraska and Kansas across southern Missouri to Illinois and Kentucky, according to the U.S. Storm Prediction Center, an arm of the National Weather Service.

At least 10 people were killed in the southern Illinois city of Harrisburg after a storm swept through shortly before dawn.

In Missouri, one person was killed in a trailer park in the town of Buffalo, and at least three people were critically injured in the small eastern Kansas town of Harveyville.

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