Watch: Fatal Nashville Tornado Lights up Night Sky, Swings Cranes in Downtown Nashville

At least seven people in the Nashville area have died after a tornado touched down in Middle Tennessee early Tuesday, authorities said. Two of the dead were in Nashville and others were in Putnam County, east of the city, CBS News reports. One of the tornadoes hit the CBS Nashville affiliate directly.

The Associated Press reports that the tornadoes caused about 40 buildings to collapse around the city.

A video posted online shows one of the tornadoes moving through downtown Nashville, lighting up the sky and swinging cranes around. See it in the clip below.

"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.

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.

Photo credit: Brett Carlsen / Stringer / Getty