Tornados kill three in central US, damage Missouri state capital

Washington (AFP) - Rescue workers searched for survivors Thursday in the capital of Missouri after a deadly storm swept through parts of the central US, bringing dozens of tornados and causing flooding and significant damage to buildings.

Three people were killed in the small town of Golden City, Missouri, officials said, while the midwestern state's capital Jefferson City was struck by what the National Weather Service called a "large and destructive" tornado Wednesday night.

The tornado caused significant damage, trapping people in buildings and homes, and knocking down power lines and trees. Photos on social media showed homes with walls ripped apart and splintered trees blocking roads.

Rescue workers were checking door-to-door for survivors Thursday, some 20 people were injured and treated at hospitals overnight, and more injuries were expected, officials said.

"We have damage to state buildings and power is down in some areas," Missouri Governor Mike Parson said on Twitter.

"We are asking that all non-essential state employees in the Jefferson City area remain at home on Thursday."

Officials surveyed the damage by helicopter Thursday morning, while police warned residents of Jefferson City to beware of downed electrical lines as power is restored.

More than two dozen tornadoes were reported overnight in Missouri and Oklahoma, officials said. The storm forced people to take shelter as heavy rain, hail, wind and lightning struck.

Video footage aired on CNN showed downed trees, smashed windows in storefronts and streets full of debris torn loose by the storm.

Thousands were left without electricity following several outages caused by the severe weather, power company Liberty Utilities Empire District wrote on Facebook.

The weather service said strong and severe storms were possible through Friday in Missouri.

"The main threats will be large hail and damaging winds," the NWS said.

Floodwaters rose in Oklahoma, damaging or destroying homes along swollen waterways.

There were numerous road and school closures reported in the Tulsa area, while several homes were reported destroyed Wednesday in the small city of Crescent along the Cimarron River.

Tulsa mayor G. T. Bynum said Wednesday night that people living close to a dam on Keystone Lake were being encouraged to evacuate due to the risk of flooding.

Water was being released from the dam to avoid floodgates being topped, which could cause the dam to fail, Bynum said.