Tornadoes kill at least 25 in Tennessee

March 04, 2020 09:41
People look at the damage after a tornado hit eastern Nashville, Tennessee, in the United States on Tuesday. Photo: Reuters

A string of tornadoes tore through Nashville, Tennessee, and surrounding counties early on Tuesday, killing at least 25 people, leaving others missing and reducing neighborhoods to rubble, Reuters reports.

Governor William Lee was quoted as saying that the death toll is expected to rise as search-and-rescue crews combed through collapsed buildings and rubble for missing people some 15 hours after the storms hit around 1 am CST.

"It's a tragic day in our state, a sad day. There are 25 confirmed fatalities,” the governor told an afternoon news conference.

“I spent the day touring and visiting with victims and walking through neighborhoods and the devastation is heartbreaking. It’s incredible. Prayers are greatly needed.”

Lee declined to estimate how many people remained unaccounted for in the state. Nineteen of the 25 fatalities were from Putnam County, east of Nashville.

The National Weather Service said eight tornadoes were believed to have touched down in Missouri, Tennessee and Kentucky, but that number could change following further analysis. It was not yet clear how many landed a direct hit on Nashville.

In addition to the fatalities, at least 30 people were injured. Some 48 buildings were destroyed in Nashville, with many more damaged, Fire Department Director Chief William Swann said. Tens of thousands of people were left without power.

"Severe weather and tornados have impacted several counties in Tennessee. Counties with the greatest impacts include Davidson, Wilson, and Putnam Counties,” the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency said on its website.

The storm struck as many were sleeping in Nashville, home to 691,000 people and one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States.

“Prayers for all of those affected by the devastating tornadoes in Tennessee. We will continue to monitor the developments. The Federal Government is with you all of the way during this difficult time,” President Donald Trump said on Twitter.

The White House said Trump would visit the devastated areas on Friday.

Tennessee is one 14 US states holding presidential nominating elections on Super Tuesday and despite the destruction, polling sites were mostly open for voting, officials said, although some had to be moved.

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