Storms Kill 7 in Arkansas, Damage Homes Around Kansas City

By: AP
By: AP

DAMASCUS, Ark. (AP) -- A powerful storm system packing tornadoes and heavy winds roared across the nation's midsection early Friday, killing at least seven people in Arkansas including a teenager crushed by a tree while she slept.

Storms late Thursday and early Friday also seriously damaged homes and businesses in the Kansas City, Mo., area, and twisters were reported in Oklahoma and Texas. There were no immediate reports of serious injuries in the other states.

In northwest Arkansas, a 15-year-old girl was killed early Friday and a 10-year-old boy injured when a tree fell on their home in Siloam Springs, police said.

The other six deaths were in the central part of the state, where a rash of twisters were seen. A father and son were killed in a mobile home in Conway County, while three people were killed in Van Buren County and another in Pulaski County. At least 13 people were injured throughout the state, emergency officials said.

Extensive property damage was reported in Damascus, north of Little Rock, where a spotter reported a tornado down just after 8:30 a.m.

"It sounded like all hell was breaking loose," said Randy Payne, 38, who hid in a hallway at his aunt and uncle's house in Damascus.

In the Kansas City area, officials said several people were injured, none seriously. About 40,000 lost power at the peak of the storm, which brought wind of up to 80 mph and two small tornadoes that raked northern parts of the city and the suburbs of Liberty and Gladstone early Friday morning, the weather service said.

Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser said 100 homes suffered significant damage in the city alone. In the northeast part of the city, dozens of homes had chunks of their roofs missing, and trees were lying along the roads and in ditches.

But "only a couple of people hurt - not bad - a couple of stitches," Funkhouser said.

The mayor in the Kansas City suburb of Gladstone, Mark Revenaugh, said some 20 homes were destroyed and as many as 200 were damaged. Officials said warning sirens were never set off in Gladstone because they didn't receive any reports of tornado sightings.

Damage was also reported in Lawrence, to the west of the metropolitan area.

In Canton, Texas, local officials said an apparent tornado Friday ripped down power lines and injured two people in overturned vehicles. Details on their condition were not immediately available.

The storm hit as visitors were beginning to show up for a popular open-air market that draws thousands to the county seat each month.

At least two tornadoes were reported in Oklahoma late Thursday. No serious injuries were reported, but a woman who was treated at a hospital for a broken foot, officials said. High winds destroyed a hotel under construction in Owasso, north of Tulsa.

As the system churned eastward, thunderstorms moved through Kentucky and a tornado warning was posted for Friday afternoon in the far western part of the state.

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Associated Press writers Andale Gross and Rochelle Hines contributed to this report.

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