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