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Three missing in Tennessee after deadly tornado

By
Don Jacobson & Daniel Uria
The sudden tornado killed more than two dozen people and dozens more are still missing, officials said. Photo by Rick Musacchio/EPA-EFE
The sudden tornado killed more than two dozen people and dozens more are still missing, officials said. Photo by Rick Musacchio/EPA-EFE

March 4 (UPI) -- Rescuers searched for three missing people in Nashville and surrounding areas of Middle Tennessee on Wednesday as officials assessed the human and economic toll from a deadly tornado.

The number of missing people in Putnam County, about 80 miles east of Nashville, was reduced from 38, with three still missing in the evening. Emergency officials said at least 24 people died in four counties due to the powerful storm early Tuesday, which created a tornado that caused a wide swath of destruction.

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The twister killed at least 18 in Putnam County, many in and around Cookeville, which officials say was the hardest hit location.

So far, officials say there are at least 48 collapsed structures in Nashville. Thousands of windows were blown out and power lines were toppled, cutting service to tens of thousands of homes and businesses. Officials said more than 35,000 were without electricity.

RELATED Titans, Predators offer assistance in Nashville tornado recovery

The National Weather Service said Tuesday's tornado was rated an EF-4, the fourth-strongest category, meaning it had wind speeds of 175 mph. It had previously been categorized as an EF-3.

Some of the dead have been identified, but most in Putnam County have not, officials said. Three of the victims died just east of Nashville in Mt. Juliet and one person was killed in Benton County, about 100 miles west of the city.

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Metro Nashville Public Schools were closed for a second day on Wednesday so crews can perform repairs. Officials said schools in Wilson and Putnam counties closed for the rest of the week.

RELATED At least 25 dead after tornado hits Nashville

The NFL's Tennessee Titans and NHL's Nashville Predators said Tuesday they will offer assistance to those affected by the deadly storm.

"We will join the efforts to re-build in these areas and know our neighbors will join us," Titans owner Amy Adams Strunk said.

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