At least 11 dead in Central US in new round of tornadoes

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Thunderstorms and tornadoes tore across the nation's heartland Saturday evening, killing at least 11 people, mangling buildings and trapping people in rubble in areas still reeling from other recent bouts with severe weather.

A twister killed at least six people in the northeastern Oklahoma town of Picher, then skipped over the Missouri state line to wreak further death and destruction, authorities said.

The death toll in Oklahoma could climb, said state Emergency Management spokeswoman Michelann Ooten. The Picher tornado caused major damage in a 20-block area, she said.

"I know they are going through the rubble, trying to find people missing," she said. "There are numerous injuries."

At least five people died in southwestern Missouri after the storms plowed through, the National Weather Service said. Three people died after the Picher tornado hit near Seneca, about 15 miles away in Newton County, said meteorologist Bill Davis.

Other tornadoes were reported near McAlester and Haywood in Pittsburg County and in rural Pushmataha County, both in southeastern Oklahoma.

Television footage showed some destroyed outbuildings and damaged homes west of McAlester and near Haywood. At a glass plant southwest of McAlester, the storm apparently picked up a trailer and slammed it down on garbage bins.

"These are rural areas that we are in," Pittsburg County Undersheriff Richard Sexton told KFOR-TV in Oklahoma City. "These are good people coming together at this time."

In storm-weary Arkansas, a tornado collapsed a home and a business, and there were reports of a few people trapped in buildings, said Weather Service meteorologist John Robinson.

Central Park Elementary School in the northwest Arkansas city of Bentonville had roof and window damage, and damage was also reported at Pine Creek Center School.

The storms remained active into the evening, with watches and warnings abundant across a wide swath of the Plains and South.

Tornadoes killed 13 people on Feb. 5 and another seven were killed in an outbreak on May 2. In between was freezing weather, persistent rain and river flooding that damaged residences has slowed farmers in their planting.


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