St. Louis airport to reopen after tornado hit damage

The airport in St. Louis reopened to some arriving flights late on Saturday after being raked by a tornado that also battered homes and cars and knocked out power in the Midwestern U.S. city.

Authorities closed Lambert-St. Louis International Airport after the tornado ripped through the area on Friday night, blowing out terminal windows and tearing holes in the roof, scattering debris and damaging at least one plane.

Airlines affected by the shutdown included Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines and AMR Corp's American Airlines.

At least a thousand workers were deployed to put things back in order. Power was restored to the terminal and arriving flights began landing late on Saturday, officials said.

Officials said the airport would officially reopen on Sunday with departing flights expected to resume and 70 percent of facilities functional.

"It isn't going to be a pretty terminal but it will be a functioning terminal," airport spokesman Jeff Lea said.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency and released state funds to help in the clean-up.
"It's just amazing that an F-4 tornado could come through a highly populated area with no fatalities. People got a 34-minute warning and that warning saved countless lives," he told reporters, referring to a tornado intensity category.

Some housing subdivisions were leveled by the tornado. Roofs were blown off, trees smashed into houses, cars flipped over, trucks blown off highways and windows shattered.

At least 750 homes sustained damage, with under 100 destroyed, Nixon said. Injuries but no deaths were reported.

Nixon, who toured the area by air, spoke to U.S. President Barack Obama, who pledged his full support and assistance with the recovery efforts, according to the governor's office.

The airport, located inside the St. Louis city limits about 5 miles northwest of downtown, was closed after the tornado hit. Several people were injured by flying glass when the main terminal was hit.
Officials said up to 47,000 people were without power after the storm hit.

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