%mlink(STRY:; PHOTO:DCN102-082302; AUDIO:%)

WILLARD, Mo. (AP) _ Strong storms roared through Iowa and Missouri on Friday, killing two people in a lightning strike, knocking out power and forcing officials to cancel school.

The lightning strike also seriously injured two people who were in a large group at a funeral just west of Willard, in southwest Missouri, sheriff's deputy Tom Martin said.

Wind gusts of 85 mph were reported in Des Moines, Iowa, as the storms rolled through just after midnight, said Marc Russell, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Kevin Waetke, a spokesman for Mid American Energy, said 50,000 Iowa customers were without power immediately after the storm. Some customers may be without power until Saturday.

Des Moines schools canceled classes after learning that power would not be immediately restored. The school year started Thursday.

Waetke said toppled trees and felled tree limbs brought down utility lines, knocking out power. Up to 4 inches of rain was reported.

The wind was comparable to a small tornado, although no tornado was reported.

Elsewhere in the Midwest, residents cleared debris and felled branches from another storm system that had raked the area Wednesday and early Thursday.

In Illinois, where the storm had knocked out power to thousands and disrupted the Thursday morning commute, there were some reports of flooding of roads and basements.