MENA, Ark., April 10 (UPI) -- Tornadoes that touched down Friday in central Tennessee claimed the lives of a mother and baby and destroyed at least 100 homes, emergency officials said.
The twisters that crossed Rutherford County and its county seat, Murfreesboro, were part of the same weather system that spawned a deadly tornado Thursday in Mena, Ark., where at least three people were killed and 22 injured.
In Rutherford County, the extent of the destruction was still unclear late Friday, The Tennessean reported. Randy White, an emergency medical services spokesman, said the county was still "in search and rescue."
The bodies of a woman in her 20s and her 9-week-old child were discovered by Andrew Piro, a tornado-chasing University of Tennessee student who was stopped when a pole landed on his car. He decided to help rescue efforts in the suburban neighborhood and eventually encountered a man trying to find his sister-in-law and her child.
"It took us about 15 minutes to look through the house," Piro said. "Outside under the rubble, we found the wife. She was right beside the driveway, about 20 feet away from the house. She was under a bunch of wood, I guess part of the roof. We found the baby strapped into a car seat, about another 20 feet away under a tree. It broke my heart."
In Mena, several buildings downtown were destroyed and about 100 houses damaged, officials said.
ABC News said City Hall was among buildings destroyed. KATV reported that a courthouse also was wrecked. A hospital continued to operate, using generators for electrical power.
Mena's downtown was blocked off because of gas leaks, Fayetteville, Ark., television station KNWA reported.
"We've got power lines down. We've got gas leaking. We had to shut down our radios and our communication center because of the gas leak. We're having to air out the jail to keep it from being filled with gas," Pope County Sheriff Mike Oglesby said.
Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe sent 30 National Guard soldiers to Mena and indicated he would send more.