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Tornadoes, winds sweep through nation’s midsection

Associated Press

Rescue and cleanup crews picked through wreckage in several states Sunday after another batch of storms roared through the middle of the country, doing heavy damage in Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee.

Winds up to 150 mph tore into homes in central Kentucky, causing more than a dozen injuries. Rescue divers searched through debris Sunday for a missing woman whose mobile home was tossed into a river as a tornado cut a seven-mile swath in Mercer County.

“It disintegrated, and pieces of it were blown into the Salt River,” Steve Oglesby, area manager with the state Division of Emergency Management, said of the mobile home.

The storms stem from a volatile weather system that “has been hung up over the area the past two or three days,” said Chris Geelhart, a National Weather Service spokesman. The worst of the storms appeared to have moved out of the region Sunday morning.

More than 300 tornadoes have been reported across the Midwest since the start of May, and at least 47 people have died in the storms.

The toll includes an Oklahoma man who died Sunday, becoming the first victim of twisters that swept through central Oklahoma on Thursday and Friday. About 145 injuries were reported in those tornadoes.

In addition, a 5-year-old West Virginia boy was found dead Sunday in a flooded creek, and authorities said a 13-year-old Alabama girl was killed when a tree fell on her home during the storms.

Meteorologists say it was the most active week of tornadoes on record, easily eclipsing the most recent comparable rash in 1999.

President Bush, wrapping up a weekend vacation in Santa Fe, N.M., told reporters he planned to visit some tornado sites Tuesday, including at least one in Missouri.

Missouri was hit again with storms over the weekend. A fraternity house at Culver-Stockton College and dozens of buildings in the surrounding town of Canton were hit when a tornado swept through Saturday evening.