Tornado warning prompts evacuation of Kansas City airport

(Reuters) - The Kansas City International Airport was evacuated briefly on Thursday over a tornado warning, airport officials said, a day after tornadoes destroyed or damaged nearly 30 homes in neighboring Kansas.

Airport staff evacuated the Missouri terminals and led travelers into tunnels to the parking garages after the National Weather Service (NWS) issued the tornado warning, airport spokesman Joe McBride said.

The incident lasted around 20 minutes, before the all clear was given and people were led back into the terminals at the airport, he said. McBride did not report any damage to the airport or surrounding area.

Intense storms were forecasted across the region for Thursday and Friday, the NWS said, with large hail and damaging winds potential primary hazards.

A tornado that touched down on Wednesday evening in Dickinson County, Kansas, which sits about 165 miles west of the airport, obliterated eight houses and nearly destroyed 15 to 20 more homes and farmsteads, the Kansas Adjutant General’s Department said in a statement.

That tornado stayed on the ground for over an hour, the statement said. The same storm system destroyed one home, heavily damaged another, and struck numerous barns and other outbuildings in nearby Ottawa County, according to the statement.

The NWS said 14 tornadoes sightings were reported on Wednesday in Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma, where storms also snapped power lines and damaged railtrack.

Two people were injured in Ford County, Kansas, on Tuesday and taken to the hospital for treatment, interim county administrator and Ford County spokesman J.D. Gilbert said. They were sent home on Wednesday morning, he said.

As many as six unconfirmed tornadoes also hit an area west of Dodge City on Tuesday, Gilbert said, destroying homes, a county building housing office, and landfill equipment. Farms and ranches were also damaged, he said.

Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Bernard Orr