MINNEAPOLIS, May 22 (UPI) -- A tornado slammed Joplin, Mo., killing 24 people Sunday and a twister hit Minneapolis, leaving one dead and 22 others injured, officials said.
Wisconsin also was socked with several tornadoes, officials there said.
Ryan Nicholls of the Springfield-Greene County (Mo.) Office of Emergency Management told St. Louis' KSDK-TV the death toll from the 6 p.m. tornado that smacked Joplin was at least two dozen.
National Weather Service Meteorologist Mike Griffin said the center of Joplin took a direct hit. Among the structures hit were St. John's Regional Medical Center, where multiple injuries were reported, and two city fire stations, KSDK-TV said.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency and ordered out the Missouri National Guard to help deal with the disaster.
"These storms have caused extensive damage across Missouri, and they continue to pose significant risk to lives and property," Nixon said in a statement on his official Web site. "As a state, we are deploying every agency and resource available to keep Missouri families safe, search for the missing, provide emergency medical care, and begin to recover. I have ordered the Missouri National Guard to deploy citizen-soldiers and assets to support local law enforcement agencies with emergency coordination and recovery, and other state assets have been mobilized to provide emergency support as well."
KOAM-TV in Joplin reported a Burger King restaurant was decimated and King's Palace was on fire. Joplin High School, Commerce Bank and a Papa Johns pizza restaurant also were damaged," the TV station said.
Interstate 44 was closed in both directions due to overturned tractor-trailer rigs.
The damage in Minneapolis' north quadrant from the 3:30 p.m. twister was so widespread it prompted Mayor R.T. Rybak to warn people to stay away from the area, Minneapolis' KARE-TV reported.
"DO NOT come to NMpls to gawk at tornado damage," the mayor said in a message sent via Twitter. "1st responders can't keep people safe when others are in way. This is important; thank you."
KARE-TV described a devastating and chaotic scene with entire blocks of homes with their roofs missing, large trees uprooted, power lines on the ground and ambulances queuing up to take away the injured.
Tornadoes and hail blew across Minnesota's east-central counties during afternoon. Thousands were left without power, officials said.
The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported high winds trapped cars, ripped roofs off houses and broke windows across North Minneapolis. A shelter was set up at the Northeast Armory for those affected by the severe weather.
Trained spotters recorded funnel clouds and tornadoes in Brooklyn Park, Fridley, Forest Lake, Centerville, Hugo and Chisago City, the newspaper said.
WCCO-TV, Minneapolis, reported firefighters used axes and power saws to cut through fallen trees that trapped residents in their houses and apartment buildings. The station also reported damage at the Anoka County airport in Blaine, a northern suburb of Minneapolis.
The National Weather Service said twisters were reported in Juneau, Taylor, La Crosse and Monroe counties in western Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
The windstorms knocked down trees in Mather, and flipped several cars, damaged billboards and broke windows in Sparta, the newspaper said. In La Crosse, a tornado blew roofs off buildings and caused serious damage to a Kmart store. Authorities were checking out a report of people possibly trapped in an apartment building, the Journal Sentinel said.