Deadly tornadoes sweep through US state of Tennessee

Recovery operations are under way as multiple tornadoes leave behind death and devastation in Nashville area.

Recovery and rescue workers are surveying the devastation after powerful tornadoes tore through the US state of Tennessee, leaving at least six people dead and injuring dozens, authorities said.

The tornadoes touched down on Saturday afternoon in and around Nashville, the capital of Tennessee, causing “extensive damage” as officials asked residents to seek shelter.

The mayor of Clarksville, 65km (40 miles) north of the capital city Nashville, where two adults and one child were killed, declared a state of emergency and imposed a curfew from 9pm Saturday (03:00 GMT Sunday).

“Additionally, 23 people have been treated at the hospital,” county officials said.

“This is devastating news and our hearts are broken for the families of those who lost loved ones,” said Clarksville Mayor Joe Pitts in a statement. “The city stands ready to help them in their time of grief.”

Residents were asked to stay at home while first responders evaluated the situation. “Please, if you need help, call 911 and help will be on the way immediately. But if you can, please stay home. Do not get out on the roads. Our first responders need time and space,” Pitts said.

Another three people died in a suburb of Nashville, while photos posted by the city’s Office of Emergency Management revealed debris-strewn streets, downed trees, overturned cars and collapsed homes.

First responders were “still in the search and rescue phase of this disaster”, it added, asking residents to stay off the roads.

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee said he and his wife, Maria, were praying for all Tennesseans who had been affected by the storms.

“We mourn the lives lost and ask that everyone continue to follow guidance from local and state officials,” Lee said in a statement.

Shaken residents recalled harrowing close encounters as tornadoes passed overhead while they sheltered in basements, shops, schools and hotels. Many homes and businesses were destroyed and nearly 52,000 customers reported power outages in the state Saturday evening, down from an earlier 86,000, according to poweroutage.us.

The storm came nearly two years to the day after the National Weather Service recorded 41 tornadoes through a handful of states, including 16 in Tennessee and eight in Kentucky. A total of 81 people died in Kentucky alone.

Scientists say climate change has amplified the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events around the world.

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