9 Killed as Violent Storms Lash Midwest
Toll could rise in Missouri, Illinois
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 29, 2012 1:41 PM CST
Gene Byrd and his son Devyn Byrd, 14, look over some of the damage sustained to a friends house after a severe storm hit in the early morning hours on Feb. 29, 2012, in Harrisrbug, Ill.   (AP Photo/The Southern Illinoisan,Paul Newton)
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(Newser) – At least nine people are dead as a violent storm system sweeps across the Midwest, causing tornadoes, pounding rain, high winds, golf-ball-sized hail, and "dangerous lightning." "It's like nothing I've ever seen, and something I don't care to see again," says the mayor of Harrisburg, Illinois, where Reuters reports that at least six people have been killed in a twister that caused a path of destruction as wide as three or four football fields. "There are semis toppled, cars thrown into lakes, and everything else," the mayor says.

The death toll could rise, as crews are searching "piece by piece" for survivors, he adds. At least three people were also killed in Missouri, one of them in a tornado near Cassville, and communities including tourist hotspot Branson have suffered damage. Injuries were also reported in Kansas, where a state of emergency has been declared in at least one town. A tornado also touched down in central Nebraska, and other states including Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana, and Arkansas have been affected, CNN reports. Click for footage of the tornadoes.