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Death Toll From Midwest, Southern Storms Put At 13

Vehicles and other possessions lie scattered in Harrisburg, Ill.
Scott Olson
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Vehicles and other possessions lie scattered in Harrisburg, Ill.

A fourth death in Tennessee appears to have brought the toll from severe storms that swept through parts of the Midwest and South on Wednesday to at least 13.

Chrissy Keuper of WUOT-FM in at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville has told our Newscast Desk about the fourth fatality in the Volunteer State.

As we reported yesterday, the hardest-hit location looks to have been Harrisburg, Ill., where at least six people were killed by a tornado with winds as strong as 170 mph. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports this morning that "whole neighborhoods were flattened" in the small city of 9,000 people, about 100 miles southeast of St. Louis.

The Springfield, Mo., News-Leader writes that Branson, Mo., a major tourist draw because of its music theaters, "took a beating when a tornado danced down the Missouri 76 strip early Wednesday. But by midday, officials in the tourism-driven town were saying their prayers and promising a swift return to business."

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.