At least 30 people are reported to have been killed by a powerful tornado that struck a town in the US mid-west state of Missouri yesterday.

The town of Joplin took the brunt of the mile-wide storm with many homes and businesses flattened and a hospital badly damaged. Phone communications in and out of the town of about 50,000 people about 160 miles south of Kansas City were largely cut off.

Tornado warnings were posted throughout the evening for other south western Missouri counties as the system powered its way east. The same storm system that produced the Joplin tornado prompted twisters from Oklahoma to Wisconsin. At least one person died in Minneapolis.

Yesterday’s storms followed a tornado on Saturday night that swept through a small eastern Kansas town, killing one person and destroying at least 20 homes. Severe thunderstorms pelted the region with hail described as being the size of baseballs, authorities said.