JOPLIN, Mo. - Tornadoes ripped through parts of the Midwest yesterday, killing at least one person in Minneapolis and an unknown number in Joplin, where a hospital was hit.

John Campbell, operations director for the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency, confirmed fatalities have been reported, but he did not yet have an exact number or specifics.

Phone communications in and out of the city of about 50,000 people about 160 miles south of Kansas City were largely cut off.

Jasper County Emergency Management Director Keith Stammer said the St. John's Regional Medical Center on the city's south side took a "direct hit." Witnesses said windows were blown out on the top floors of the hospital.

Tornado warnings and watches were posted from Texas to Michigan.

"There were people wandering the streets, all mud covered," said Joplin Globe reporter Jeff Lehr. "I'm talking to them, asking if they knew where their family is. Some of them didn't know, and weren't sure where they were. All the street markers were gone."

In Minneapolis, city spokeswoman Sara Dietrich said the death was confirmed by the Hennepin County medical examiner. She had no other immediate details. Only two of the 29 people injured there were hurt critically.

In Wisconsin, a powerful storm caused significant damage in La Crosse, tearing roofs from homes and sending emergency responders to search damaged buildings for anyone trapped inside, officials said.