A POWERFUL storm system that produced multiple reports of tornadoes has lashed the Midwest, laying waste to small towns in Illinois and Kansas. At least 13 people were killed.
An apparent twister rolled through Branson overnight and seemed to hopscotch up the city's main roadway, ripping roofs off hotels and damaging some of the city's famed music theatres.
At least 10 people were killed in the southern Illinois town of Harrisburg after a storm levelled much of the community of 9000 people.
In Missouri, one person was killed in a caravan park in the town of Buffalo, and at least three people were critically injured in the small eastern Kansas town of Harveyville.
The tornadoes were spawned by a powerful storm system that blew down from the Rockies yesterday and was headed across the Ohio and Tennessee river valleys toward the Mid-Atlantic region.
Corey Mead, lead forecaster at the US Storm Prediction Centre said a broad cold front was slamming into warm, humid air over much of the eastern half of the nation.
From yesterday into overnight, at least 16 tornado sightings were reported from Nebraska and Kansas across southern Missouri to Illinois and Kentucky, according to the storm centre, an arm of the National Weather Service.