At least nine people were reported dead in the Nashville, Tennessee, area after a tornado ripped through downtown Nashville and Middle Tennessee. Local news outlet WKRN's Josh Breslow reported that authorities said two died in East Nashville, one died in Benton County, four died in Putnam County and two died in Wilson County.
#UPDATE: It appears at least *9* people have died in Middle Tennessee as a result of overnight storms. Metro police say 2 dead in East Nashville, Benton County sheriff says 1 dead, & @T_E_M_A reports 4 dead in Putnam County & 2 dead in Wilson County. @WKRN— Josh Breslow (@JoshBreslowWKRN) March 3, 2020
Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) spokeswoman Maggie Hannah confirmed the initial death toll of 7 to the Associated Press.
The Associated Press reported that the tornado caused about 40 buildings to collapse around the city.
"A tornado skipped across the county," Nashville Mayor John Cooper told the Tennessean while visiting an emergency shelter early Tuesday. "You do have people at the hospital and frankly there have been fatalities."
Authorities pleaded with people to stay indoors, at least until daybreak could reveal the dangers of a landscape littered with blown-down walls and roofs, downed power lines and huge broken trees. Schools, courts and transit lines were closed, and four polling stations were moved just hours before Super Tuesday voting was set to begin.
A line of severe storms caused damage across Tennessee as it moved through the state after midnight. Buildings, roads, bridges, utilities and businesses were affected, Hannan said. One tornado near downtown reportedly stayed on the ground into Hermitage, about 10 miles east of the city. Other areas reporting extensive damage included Mt. Juliet and Germantown.
"Our community has been impacted significantly," the Mt. Juliet Police Department tweeted early Tuesday. Multiple homes were damaged and multiple injuries were reported, the department said. "We continue to search for injured. Stay home if you can."
John C. Tune Airport, Nashville International's sister airport in West Nashville, "sustained significant damage due to severe weather," spokeswoman Kim Gerlock said in a statement early Tuesday morning. Several hangars were destroyed and power lines are down, she said, adding that there were no reported injuries.0comments
Images on social media show extensive damage to buildings, mangled wires on downed power lines and now-unrecognizable structures as the tornado reduced them to rubble.
Among the collapsed buildings was a popular music venue that had just held an election rally for presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders. The crowd left shortly before the twister struck The Basement East, the Tennessean reported.