- The Washington Times - Monday, April 3, 2006

NEWBERN, Tenn. (AP) - Thunderstorms packing tornadoes and hail as big as softballs ripped through eight states across the Midwest last night and yesterday, killing at least 23 people, injuring scores and destroying hundreds of homes.

Severe thunderstorms, many producing tornadoes, also struck parts of Iowa, Kentucky, Arkansas, Missouri, Ohio, Illinois and Indiana. Strong wind was blamed or at least three deaths in Missouri. A clothing store collapsed in southern Illinois, killing one man.

The National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., said it had preliminary reports of 63 tornadoes.

Tennessee was hardest hit, with tornadoes striking five counties Sunday, the weather service said.

Most of the state’s 19 deaths were reported along one 25-mile path, from Newbern east to Bradford. The state Highway Patrol sent teams to the area today with search dogs.

Betty Sisk said she and her 13-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son took cover in a closet until the twister blew their house apart and threw them into the yard.

“By the time the (tornado) sirens started going off, it was at our back door,” she said. “I didn’t hear a train sound, I heard a roaring.”

Nothing remained of her wood-frame home Monday but the concrete steps. A nearby house was destroyed and Mrs. Sisk said she had been told the elderly couple who lived there were dead. Another neighbor’s home was blown about 30 feet off its foundation in the community about 80 miles northeast of Memphis.

One of the dead in Tennessee was a baby, said Coleman Foss, CEO of Dyersburg Regional Medical Center. Also killed were a family of four from Bradford, officials said.

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