Subscribe for 17¢ / day

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - A powerful tornado hit the Kansas City area Sunday, flattening several buildings and killing at least one person as it left a swath of destruction a quarter-mile wide in some places.

Providence Medical Center in Kansas City said it was treating people injured by the tornado, one of several reported in Kansas and Missouri. Officials could not estimate how many injured were at the hospital.

Don Denney, a spokesman for Wyandotte County and Kansas City, said one death was confirmed and searchers were looking for other victims.

He said dozens of homes were significantly damaged and several were destroyed.

Army National Guard Maj. Gen. Greg Gardner, Kansas' director of emergency management, said state officials knew of four tornadoes that touched down in the region.

The largest tornado first touched down west of Bonner Springs in Leavenworth County, Kan., around 3:30 p.m., said Lynn Maximuk, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

It moved through Leavenworth and Wyandotte counties and east into Platte and Clay counties in Missouri, doing heavy damage along the way in the northern section of the Kansas City metropolitan area.

The tornado reached 500 yards across at its widest, Maximuk said.

In Kansas, footage from television news helicopters showed homes demolished or damaged in Wyandotte County, which includes part of Kansas City. There were also reports that a subdivision was flattened in Leavenworth, just west of the city.

At Kansas City International Airport, officials stopped all flights and evacuated the terminals. Passengers were ushered into underground tunnels leading to parking garages. After about 30 minutes, the passengers were allowed to leave.

Don't get caught by surprise: Get weather alerts emailed to your inbox

The television footage also showed water spurting from what appeared to be a flattened industrial park south of Parkville, Mo. All roads leading into the city were closed by emergency crews.

In nearby Riverside, debris littered an interstate highway and a storage facility appeared to have been ripped up and moved off its foundations.

Storms earlier unleashed tornadoes in Nebraska, dumping rain and some hail over most of the drought-parched state.

"We got smacked," said Herb Johnston, who lives east of Minatare, Neb. "We lost a shed and windows in the house, and I think we've got half the cornfield in the house now."

Copyright © 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.