4 Amish children die in violent storms

12:08 PM, Feb 25, 2011   |    comments
Highs winds pushed a tree onto a house in Nashville this morning.
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LITTLE ROCK (AP) - Severe storms raced across a stretch of the nation's midsection on Thursday, pummeling trees and splintering power lines as they pushed to the southeast.

Authorities found the bodies of three Amish children early Friday who were swept away in a creek swollen by heavy rains in southwestern Kentucky. The body of a fourth child was found later Friday morning.

A married couple along with seven children were trying to cross the creek Thursday on a roadway in their horse-drawn buggy when it overturned knocking them into the water, Graves County Sheriff Dewayne Redmon said. The couple and three of the children escaped but four other children under age 12 were swept away.

The bodies of three of the children - including a 6-month-old - were found Friday around 12:30 a.m., Redmon said. Authorities continued searching for the fourth child, an 11-year-old girl, he said.

About 75 to 100 law enforcers, firefighters and volunteers were taking part in the search Friday, Redmon said. Some were searching along the creek and others took to the water in boats.

The Storm Prediction Center had collected 10 reports of tornadoes on Thursday - in Missouri, Oklahoma, and Tennessee - and more than 200 reports of high winds across the South.

Authorities say the storms may have whirled a tornado at eastern Arkansas on Thursday evening. Winds between 60 and 70 mph toppled trees there, blocking roads and damaging homes across the state.

Heavy rain and winds from 60 to 80 mph blew through the Memphis, area Thursday night, said National Weather Service meteorologist Corey Chaskelson. He said several possible tornadoes were spotted in northwestern Tennessee and eastern Arkansas.

On Highway 51 near Memphis, sheets of rain fell, tree limbs blew onto the road and lightning lit up the evening sky.

Rudy Gay of the Memphis Grizzlies tweeted that he and others took shelter in a closet during the storm, which interrupted a photo shoot. There was no immediate word of serious injuries.

Meteorologists also expected thunderstorms to smack into Louisiana and Mississippi.

More than 27,000 people in Arkansas were without power, according to estimates from Entergy Arkansas, the state's largest electric utility. Winds toppled trees and blew out power lines, blocking roads and damaging several homes across the state.

Flash floods crept up on parts of northern Arkansas' Independence County, said Tommy Jackson, a spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management. There weren't any reports of fatalities, he said.

Some authorities urged people to stay inside as forecasts called for hail and isolated tornadoes.

In Nashville, where it rained most of the day, emergency officials told workers to get home by 6 p.m. and stay there. Workers placed sandbags around Vanderbilt Children's Hospital to guard against flooding.

Meanwhile, further north, winter weather beat down on Nebraska, where authorities shut down part of an interstate and reported a rash of accidents. The National Weather Service predicted about five inches of snow to hit the area surrounding Lincoln.

Other areas of the Midwest also saw snow.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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