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Waves of tornadoes strike Mid-South


Both the fire department and a local church were among the structures destroyed in this small Arkansas town

located northeast of Little Rock last night, as at least 20 tornadoes raked the state.

Emergency officials said at least six people were killed and dozens injured during a night when waves of tornadoes struck the mid-South. It

was too soon to determine how many homes and businesses were destroyed or damaged in the unusual January tornadoes.

Damage ranged from destroyed mobile homes throughout the state to downed trees at the governor's mansion. The tornadoes cut a jagged

diagonal path from the southwest to the northeast corners of Arkansas. The National Weather Service, had issued tornado warnings for almost

half of the state.

Storms also battered Louisiana and Mississippi, although no little damage was reported in those states by early this morning. Utilities said as

many as 100,000 customers across the south are without power this morning.

Parts of central Arkansas also are under a flash flood watch. Much of the damage appears centered in Greene and White counties, according to

state emergency management officials.

The Arkansas National Guard mobilized its operations to open emergency shelters and search through rubble for survivors.As daylight came

Friday morning, still more severe weather was forecast in an area stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to southern Indiana.The weather service

said it had reports of additional tornadoes on the groun Friday morning.

Thursday night, early reports told of near misses and personal tragedy.

In Newport, Arkansas, a varsity basketball game was in progress when the tornado sirens went off. As the teams and spectators sought shelter

in other parts of the school, high winds tore the roof off the gym.

Motorists along several Interstates told of seeing tractor-trailers and autos that the high winds had picked up and moved or blown over onto

their sides. Other local residents told of seeing tornadoes that zig-zagged through their towns.

Most of the deaths occurred when trees were felled by the winds onto vehicles or homes. In Little Rock, local residents said a 50-block largely

residential area of the eastern side of the city looked like a bomb had gone off.

Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said Thursday night that while it was too early to know the extent of damages that he expects that it will be


The storm system struck other areas of the south as well. Tennessee Highway Patrol officials said that an apparent twister hit Clarksville,

located northwest of Nashville near the Kentucky border, about 4 a.m. Friday, heavily damaging the city's downtown area.

Just last Sunday, twisters struck in the Jackson, TN area, destroying hundreds of homes.

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