At least nine dead from storms; heavy damage in Branson, Mo.

BRANSON, Mo. (AP) -- At least nine people are dead in Illinois and Missouri after a powerful storm system lashed the Midwest early Wednesday. There were multiple reports of tornadoes.

The storms caused a lot of damage in the country music resort city of Branson, Mo., and laid waste to small towns in Illinois in Kansas.

An apparent twister rolled through Branson just before 1 a.m., and seemed to hopscotch up the city's main roadway. It took roofs off hotels and damaged some music theaters. More than 30 people were reported hurt, mostly with cuts and bruises.

The owner of a Branson diner says a theater next door "kind of exploded" and "went everywhere." He says hotels on both sides lost their roofs. John Moore says damage must be in the millions.

At least six people were killed in the southern Illinois town of Harrisburg after a storm leveled much of the community. Authorities had earlier reported ten deaths in the town.

From last night into this morning, at least 16 tornado sightings were reported from Nebraska and Kansas across southern Missouri to Illinois and Kentucky.

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