A deadly string of tornadoes cut a swath of destruction across the U.S. midwest, killing at least nine people and threatening scores more as a massive storm pushed eastward on Wednesday.

Homes were smashed to bits, cars were tossed into lakes, huge trees were torn from ground and shops were reduced to rubble in towns from Nebraska to Kentucky as the powerful system whipped up strong winds, hail and the dreaded funnel clouds.

The town of Harrisburg, Illinois was the hardest hit after it was ripped apart by a deadly twister that stayed on the ground for kilometres, striking while most were still sleeping at around 4:30 a.m. (10:30 GMT.) At least six people were killed and more than 100 injured in this southern Illinois town of 9,000. —AFP

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