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Tornado causes injuries at St. Louis airport

A van hangs over the side of a parking garage at Lambert St. Louis International Airport Friday, April 22, 2011, in St. Louis. Several people at the airport were injured Friday after an apparent tornado touched down, spewing debris over the airfield, bursting glass in the concourse and damaging cars atop a parking garage.

A van hangs over the side of a parking garage at Lambert St. Louis International Airport Friday, April 22, 2011, in St. Louis. Several people at the airport were injured Friday after an apparent tornado touched down, spewing debris over the airfield, bursting glass in the concourse and damaging cars atop a parking garage. Photo by The Associated Press.

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Several people at Lambert Airport in St. Louis were injured Friday after an apparent tornado touched down, spewing debris over the airfield, bursting glass in the concourse and damaging cars atop a parking garage.

The storm forced the closure of Lambert Field, with planes diverted to other locations

The tornado was part of a series of strong storms that struck central and eastern Missouri. Unconfirmed tornadoes were reported in several counties in the St. Louis area.

Lambert spokesman Jeff Lea said he did not immediately have information about how many people were hurt, or how badly. He said the injuries were believed to be from glass that shattered as the storm hit the airport. An Air National Guard facility at the airport was reportedly damaged.

Lea said several cars parked at the airport were damaged.

Damage, possibly from a tornado, was also reported at several towns near the airport — Maryland Heights, Bridgeton, St. Ann, Ferguson and Florissant. Interstate 270 in that area was closed. Trees and power lines were down. A tractor-trailer was sitting on its end.

Unconfirmed tornadoes were reported near New Melle and Dardenne Prairie in St. Charles County. St. Charles County Sheriff’s Lt. Craig McGuire said there were early reports of at least 20 homes damaged in the county.

“It was pretty wicked,” he said.

In downtown St. Louis, Busch Stadium officials hurriedly moved Cardinals fans to a safe area as tornado sirens blared. The game with the Cincinnati Reds was delayed for hours.

The utility company Ameren Missouri reported more than 39,000 power outages.

In Maryland Heights, a police dispatcher said a tornado hit the area, damaging homes and power lines. The dispatcher, who refused to give her name, said several officers were out dealing with reports of gas leaks and downed trees that were blocking roadways.

The department said it was unclear if there were any injuries.

The city’s community center was being opened as a shelter Friday night for residents affected by the storm.

“It looks like we probably had a couple touchdowns around Maryland Heights,” said Mary Vaughan, director of parks and recreation for the city. “We got some damage. I don’t even know all of it.”

A few residents were already at the center, and she expected more to come in later in the evening.

“We were going to close at 10,” she said. “But now we won’t. We have electricity, and everything’s fine. We have heat and air. We’ll be here as long as we need to be.”

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