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As Morning Breaks, Tornadoes' Destruction Remains

This morning, the death toll rose in areas affected by extreme weather in the Midwest and the South. Towns have been wrecked and the number of people missing is unclear. Now, residents are starting to sift through the wreckage and recover what they have left.

At least 28 people have been reported dead. (Note: This number is bound to change, and we'll update as we have more information.)

The damage was greatest in southern Indiana, NPR's Karen Grigsby Bates tells our Newscast unit. She reports a sheriff described the small town of Marysville as being "completely gone."

You can find the latest tornado warnings from the Space Science and Engineering Center.

We'll update this blog with the latest, so be sure to hit your refresh button.

Update at 11:16 a.m. ET. Baby Found Alive In Field

A 20-month-old girl has been found alive and alone in a field in Salem, Ind. — about 10 miles from her home. As NPR News is reporting, she's in critical condition at a hospital in Louisville, Ky.

In Kentucky, Fred Knight of member station WOUB in Athens, Ohio, tells Newscast that National Guard troops have been deployed. Some rural communities there were cut off and have no electricity, he says, making the search and rescue effort more difficult.

Update at 7:45 a.m. ET. Starting The Search:

The AP has raised the number of dead to "more than 30" as searches for survivors are underway. Cheri Lawson of member station WNKU tells our Newscast unit that Piner, Ky., was hit especially hard. Resident Brad Spegal tells her the destruction to his hometown is hard to believe.

"Electric lines down, barns on the ground. You know, houses you drove past every day just wiped out. I never thought we'd ever see anything like this," he says.

Update at 4:05 a.m. ET. 'Worst Case Scenario':

For Weekend Edition Saturday, Erica Peterson of member station WFPL covers the devastation in southern Indiana. Indiana State Police Sgt. Jerry Goodin tells her the job is huge: a three-county area of destruction, with hundreds of miles of rural roads.

"The worst case scenario happened for us. We had multiple tornadoes, and it happened all of a sudden," he says. "We knew there was a possibility that something like this would happen, and we were trying to prepare. There's no way you can prepare for something like this happening."

Update at 2:15 a.m. ET. What's Likely To Come:

So far today, The National Weather Service has issued more than 270 tornado warnings. Looking ahead, the agency says:

"... a few tornadoes could be noted. Otherwise, strong winds will likely be the main severe threat and hail could also accompany the more robust storms ..."

Update at 1:00 a.m. ET. Identifying 'The Culprit':

NPR's Southern Bureau Chief Russell Lewis reports the tornadoes "are slowing down," but the rain hasn't stopped. "Golf ball sized hail" has been reported in Georgia and North Carolina, according to The National Weather Service.

A research meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Harold Brooks, tells The New York Times the unusual weather created the storm system:

"The culprit was a warm, moist and unseasonable air mass that reached far to the north, where it mixed with colder air," the Times reports.

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