Tornadoes have killed at least three people in Missouri, bringing the death toll from twisters across the US Midwest in recent days to seven.
All three deaths overnight were in Golden City. Another tornado hit the state capital, Jefferson City.
Around 20 people have been rescued in Jefferson City, where buildings were damaged and cars tossed about.
Missouri saw two other weather-related deaths earlier this week, along with one in Oklahoma and another in Iowa.
Those who work in Jefferson City were urged yesterday to stay at home due to dangerous road conditions in the aftermath of the storm, including toppled trees and power lines.
Earlier the US National Weather Service (NWS) issued a rare “high warning” for severe storms in the region.
It said at least 29 tornadoes had been reported in the last 24 hours and more than 170 since last Friday.
The NWS described the tornado over Jefferson City as “large and destructive”.
Missouri Governor Mike Parson told reporters yesterday morning that “there was a lot of devastation throughout the state”.
“We were very fortunate last night that we didn’t have more injuries than what we had, and we didn’t have more fatalities across the state. But there is too many.”
According to the governor, some Jefferson City residents are still trapped in the rubble, and emergency teams have been dispatched across the capital city.
Police will begin door-to-door searches soon, KMIZ News reports.
On Wednesday night, emergency sirens were activated in Jefferson City – home to around 43,000 people – and the storm was spotted 20 minutes later.
“When it hit… it felt like an earthquake,” local resident Cindy Sandoval-Jakobsen told CNN.
No deaths have been reported in the city, but images on social media show buildings ripped apart. Thousands are believed to be without electricity.
“It’s a chaotic situation right now,” Jefferson City Police Lt David Williams told reporters.
“We need people who are not affected to stay out of those areas.”
Emergency officials have warned of flash flooding, and police in Tulsa, Oklahoma, have advised residents living near Keystone Lake dam to begin evacuating.
Wednesday’s storms struck on the eighth anniversary of a tornado that killed 161 people in Joplin, a city in southeast Missouri.
More storms were expected to hit the Midwest yesterday and today. –BBC