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Stormy Halloween in central U.S. leaves four people dead

By Kevin Murphy

Kansas City, Missouri (Reuters) - A violent Halloween storm swept from the U.S. Gulf Coast up to the eastern Great Lakes killing at least four people, three in Texas and one in Tennessee, and contributed to the overturning of a school bus in a rain-swollen creek in Kansas.

Strong winds and heavy rain lashed the region, and wind gusts of up to 50 miles per hour were still being forecast for Friday afternoon in some regions.

The National Weather Service said it received 230 reports of high winds across 12 states from Louisiana to Pennsylvania, and reports of tornadoes in Louisiana, Texas, Kentucky and Illinois, although none did major damage.

In Nashville, a 9-year-old boy was electrocuted by a downed power line, according to Metro Nashville Police.

"It has not been determined exactly how he contacted the wire, which was knocked down by a large tree limb during high winds," police said in a statement. Local television stations reported he was on his bike when he made contact with the wire.

Fallen power lines littered Tennessee in the wake of 40 to 50 mph winds, said Scott Unger of the National Weather Service in Nashville. Thousands lost power, officials said.

A Halloween death in Tennessee was not related to the weather. A 4-year-old boy in White Pine, Tennessee, was struck by the family van while he was out trick-or-treating, according to local media reports. He apparently jumped from the side door of the van and was run over by a back wheel and killed.

Many towns and cities in the path of the storm had postponed trick-or-treating.

Three people died in Texas from the storm, officials said. A man's body was found Thursday in a swollen creek in southeast Austin, officials said. A woman, 31, was found about a mile and a half from her car in another Austin creek on Friday as the search continues for her 8-month-old daughter, said Travis County Sheriff's spokesman Roger Wade. A man in rural Caldwell County died Thursday after being trapped in his car by high water, officials said.

In rural south-central Kansas, a school bus slid off a road and into a creek and fell on its side, requiring the rescue of 10 children and the driver, said Chris Davis, 911 director for Butler County. Water from the creek covered the low-lying road after heavy rain earlier Thursday, Davis said Friday.

Ten elementary school-age children climbed out the windows onto the side of the bus and were rescued by boats in fast-moving water, Davis said. One child was taken to the hospital with minor injures while the driver was hospitalized after suffering a back injury and hypothermia, Davis said.

"The water was about halfway up the side of the bus," Davis said.

(Additional reporting by Timothy Ghianni in Nashville, Karen Brooks in Austin, Texas, Kim Palmer in Cleveland, Kathy Finn in New Orleans, Carey Gillam in Kansas City, and Scott DiSavino in New York; Writing by Kevin Murphy; editing by Andrew Hay and Gunna Dickson)

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