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Tornadoes in region leave at least two people dead

ALMORA - Numerous tornadoes and other severe weather swept through the region Thursday, leaving at least two people dead. One person died in Polk County and another in Otter Tail County near Almora, Minn. Otter Tail Emergency spokesman David Haus...

ALMORA - Numerous tornadoes and other severe weather swept through the region Thursday, leaving at least two people dead.

One person died in Polk County and another in Otter Tail County near Almora, Minn.

Otter Tail Emergency spokesman David Hauser says an elderly woman was found dead in tornado debris there Thursday afternoon.

Hauser says the county had been told by state officials that her husband died at the hospital, but the county could no longer confirm that Thursday night.

The Almora tornado was part of a swath of heavy weather that rolled across much of Minnesota and parts of North Dakota, flattening homes, knocking down trees and hitting a gas station.

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In Mentor, Minn., a tornado destroyed the C-Store gas and convenience store on U.S. Highway 2 and killed one person, according to Rick Olson of the Minnesota State Patrol. More injuries are possible, Olson said.

According to Olson, the tornado came through town at an angle and it went northwest. It skipped around on the northeast side of Maple Lake, and there was damage to cabins, he said.

The Grand Forks Herald reported a car on its side in a nearby ditch, bent signs and debris covering the area. The tornado destroyed at least three other vehicles at the scene.

"It looks like a war zone," according to a deputy on the scene.

He said the car flipped on its side in the ditch had been parked at the Dairy Queen, 40 yards away. The driver of the car was inside the restaurant.

All that remains of the C-Store is the north wall, a sliver of the west wall, a mishmash of 2x4s, corrugated metal and insulation. The awnings over the gas pumps are full of twisted metal; only the frames of the awnings exist.

Two gas pumps are the only things that look untouched.

Minnesota State Patrol, McIntosh and Erskine fire and rescue units and First Care ambulance, based in Fosston, were on the scene. Emergency responders from Fertile, Minn., the Polk County Sheriff's Department and the state Department of Natural Resources also were working at the scene.

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Onlookers lined U.S. Highway 2 as of 8 p.m., with State Patrol directing traffic.

Law enforcement's initial reports at 6:20 p.m. said people were trapped inside. Mentor is in eastern-central Polk County, along U.S. Highway 2 between Crookston and Erskine, Minn.

Other damage reports around the region included a house east of Northwood, N.D., that was destroyed. The owner, Owen Dahl, also lost two large sheds and a small shed to a reported tornado near state Highway 15. Dahl's workshop was damaged but not destroyed.

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