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Tornadoes, rough weather blamed for 3 deaths

SHUQUALAK, Miss. -- A spring storm that socked the Midwest with ice and heavy, wet snow made its way east, raking the South with tornadoes yesterday, with three deaths blamed on the rough weather and thousands of people without power.

Mississippi Emergency Management Agency spokesman Greg Flynn said one person died and several were injured after a reported tornado struck Kemper County in the far eastern part of the state.

Tabatha Lott, a dispatcher in Noxubee County, said there were "numerous reports of injuries" in Shuqualak. Flynn had reports of damaged buildings and many power outages.

The T-shaped system swept across the nation's midsection Wednesday night and pummeled portions of Missouri, where the National Weather Service said an EF-2 tornado appears to have damaged dozens of homes in the St. Louis suburb of Hazelwood. That tornado category generally packs winds of 113 to 157 mph.

Derek Cody, an amateur storm chaser who works at East Mississippi Community College in Scooba, just south of Shuqualak, said he drove north to the small town to try to catch a glimpse of the tornado.

He said he got out of his car on U.S. 45 just as the twister was approaching the highway, only to be hit by a strong gust that almost knocked him over.

"I kind of sat there and hoped it would cross right in front of me," Cody said. "It was just a black mass that moved across the road." -- AP

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