At least 25 dead from tornados in US
At least 25 people were killed, several are missing and an as yet undetermined number were injured in the multiple tornados that touched down early in the state of Tennessee, according to state authorities, as cited by local and national media.
Authorities said that this is one of the most significant disasters to hit Tennessee in recent years.
The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) has been updating the death toll during the day and a state of emergency has been declared in Tennessee after the storm that spawned a number of tornados and caused severe damage in downtown Nashville, as well as in other nearby towns on Tuesday.
The state agency updated the death toll after emergency workers found several bodies in the ruins of buildings and homes that were destroyed or heavily damaged by the tornados that lashed the region, Efe news reported.
At least 40 structures collapsed in the Nashville area, where one of the tornados roared through in the early morning hours, the Metropolitan Police said on its Twitter account.
At least 16 fatalities have been registered in Putnam County, east of Nashville, along with three in Wilson County.
The Putnam County Sheriff's Office said that the storm particularly affected the area between the cities of Cookeville and Baxter, where several homes were destroyed.
TEMA said that more than 73,000 homes and buildings were without electricity in Davidson, Wilson, Putnam and Jackson Counties as a result of the storms and tornados, which damaged roadways, bridges and electric power pylons.
In light of the situation, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, declared a statewide state of emergency and opened at least four refugee centers to house those made homeless by the storm.
The governor made a tour of the affected area and spoke with the White House about the situation to facilitate the dispatch of aid to clean up and rebuild the devastated zone.
President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday that he will visit the state to learn firsthand of the damage caused by the tornados that began developing shortly after midnight.
Local media reported that one of the tornados that formed Tuesday morning tore through downtown Nashville, causing serious damage to more than 40 buildings and other buildings were evacuated given the possibility of gas leaks.
Authorities in the state capital urged the public to remain indoors while they evaluate the damage, and "non-essential" public buildings and numerous schools remain closed throughout the region.
Although the region's main airport, Nashville International, is operating, and John C. Tune airport in West Nashville said that it had suffered significant damage and that several hangars had been destroyed, although evidently nobody was injured or worse there.
Nashville Mayor John Cooper said that the city had suffered significant damage, adding that all the injured people located so far had been taken to local hospitals.
Although Cooper gave no figures on the number of victims, local media estimated that at least 150 people had been hospitalized.
Tennessee is holding its primary elections on so-called "Super Tuesday" - one of the 14 states doing so - and several voting sites were affected by the storm or had to open later than scheduled, authorities said, adding that they were trying to transfer voters to other voting sites so they can cast their ballots.
The AccuWeather Web site said that this year's tornado season in the US has had an unusually rapid start with 141 preliminary reports of twisters over the past two months, more than double the average of 68 registered between 1991 and 2015.
The Web site added that if that total is confirmed it would be the fourth largest number of tornados in the first two months of any given year since 1950. IANS