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Death toll rises to 12 as tornadoes strike U.S. Midwest, move east

03-01-2012 12:43 BJT

CHICAGO, Feb. 29 (Xinhua) -- The authorities said that the death toll from an enormous storm system that struck the U.S. Midwest and moved east reached 12 late on Wednesday, according to local media.

Three deaths were reported in Tennessee, from a rash of storms and possible tornadoes moving east from the Midwest to the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast states on Wednesday evening, following six deaths earlier in Harrisburg Illinois and three in Missouri, according to CNN.

The tornado, which hit Harrisburg, Illinois early Wednesday, has been rated an EF4 by the National Weather Service, the second-highest rating given to twisters. The tornado's path was 200 yards wide with top winds up to 170 mph, according to Meteorologist Rick Shanklin.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has declared the city a disaster area. "At least six people have lost their lives in the wake of these storms, and our hearts go out to their families and the many others who were injured or suffered a devastating loss," Quinn said in statement.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon also declared a state of emergency early Wednesday morning, after a smaller tornado caused significant damage in the music resort city of Branson. Three people were killed and more than 200 others hurt across the region.

Two twisters were reported Wednesday night near Hodgenville, Kentucky. Winds in excess of 100 mph were reported late Wednesday afternoon in northwestern Alabama.

According to CNN meteorologist Sean Morris, more activity was possible in extreme northern Georgia, southern and eastern Kentucky, northern Mississippi, western North Carolina and much of Tennessee.

Editor:Zhang Jianfeng |Source: Xinhua

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