(Des Moines) A ​​tornado that touched down early Wednesday in southeastern Missouri claimed several lives.

The disaster occurred between 3:30 a.m. and 4 a.m. local time in Bollinger County, about 80 miles south of St. Louis. A local police spokesperson reported “several injuries and several deaths”, without giving further details.

Sergeant Clark Parrott added that the property damage is extensive. Several agencies are involved in the relief operations, but their progress is being slowed by the debris they have to clear to reach the disaster area, he added.

The United States Storm Prediction Center previously said some 40 million people were at risk from severe weather, including in Chicago, Indianapolis, Detroit and Memphis.

The greatest threat stretched from lower Michigan down to the lower Ohio Valley and the mid-South region. Storms swept through the Ozarks in northern Arkansas and southern Missouri on Wednesday morning.

Several schools in Little Rock, Arkansas, closed Wednesday due to inclement weather.

At least two tornadoes hit Illinois on Tuesday, including one that made landfall southwest of Chicago.

There are no reports of injuries at this time, but footage released by local media shows that buildings have been damaged.

Earlier in the day, the Quad Cities area of ​​Iowa and Illinois had been swept by 90-mile-per-hour winds and hammered by baseball-sized hailstones. Several trees were uprooted and structures damaged.

Northern Illinois saw winds of 120 or 130 kilometers per hour on Tuesday and hailstones with a diameter of five to eight centimeters. Semi-trailers were overturned by the wind.

A blizzard warning is in effect for most of North Dakota and most of South Dakota until at least Wednesday evening. A winter storm warning covers northern Minnesota.