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STORMS HIT STATE'S MIDSECTION; 1 KILLED

An 8-year-old girl died early today after being swept away in a fast-moving, rain-swollen creek during a severe thunderstorm.

A 50-mile wide band of severe storms hammered communities from southern Lake Ontario to the western Catskills, dumping torrential rains and golf-ball sized hail. Winds blew as fast as 70 mph throughout the region, the National Weather Service said.

At the peak of the overnight storm, about 10,000 homes were briefly left without power in the Syracuse, Watertown and Utica areas, said Niagara Mohawk Power Corp. spokesman Ken Tompkins. The utility restored power to all but a handful by early today, he said.

Chelsea Koons was playing with her sisters and a friend about 7:50 p.m. Monday when she got caught in the strong current of swollen Teall Brook behind her home, Syracuse police said. She was swept nearly a mile downstream.

Chelsea was unconscious when rescue workers pulled her from the creek at 8:22 p.m., said police spokeswoman Sgt. Therese Lore. She was taken to University Hospital, where she died early today, hospital officials said.

The storm also brought an end to a concert at the New York State Fairgrounds by country western singer Shania Twain. State fair spokesman Joseph LaGuardia confirmed lightning struck behind the stage while Twain was performing.

Twain performed about 70 minutes before calling it quits. Most of the nearly 16,800 people in the audience watched in a drenching rain.

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