Deadly Tornado Slams Arkansas; 3 Dead

By: AP/CBS
By: AP/CBS

(CBS/AP) CINCINNATI, Arkansas - Emergency response officials in Arkansas have confirmed at least three people are dead and several more injured after a tornado blew through the tiny town of Cincinnati in western Washington County Friday morning, reports KFSM-TV.

Five people are in critical condition at Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville.

Dispatcher Josh Howerton told the Associated Press that the storm caused damage along State Highway 59 in downtown Cincinnati and through most of the western portion of Washington County. He says there are "lots of injuries."

Cincinnati is located near the Oklahoma state line, about 20 miles west of Fayetteville.

Rick Johnson, the deputy emergency manager for Washington County, says the same storm system caused damage in nearby Tontitown. Johnson says initial emergency responders had trouble reaching the damaged areas because of downed power lines.

Officials say they were several people trapped in buildings that were damaged by the storm. Others are missing. Several homes and buildings - including the Cinncinati Fire Department, which was completely destroyed - have been heavily damaged.

Roofs have been blown off of homes. Many roads to and from Cinncinati are also blocked because of downed powerlines.

At one point this morning, more than 18,000 Ozarks Electric customers were without power because of the storm. Penny Storms with Ozarks Electric says AEP’s transmission line that feeds OECC substations is back online. Some outages remain, but Storms says crews are working to make sure power is restored to all customers as quickly as possibly.

About 3,000 people in Lincoln and surrounding areas are still without power.

In Westville, Okla., Storms says there are also at least 12 broken power poles. So it will take longer to restore power in those areas.

Several flights to and from the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport at Highfill, in Benton County, were delayed or canceled Friday morning as officials worked to clear storm debris littering the runway.

Later Friday morning, in south-central Missouri, baseball-sized hail was reported north of Mansfield in Wright County.

The weather service issued a handful of tornado warnings after a line of storms passed through Oklahoma early Friday then rapidly moved into northwest Arkansas and southwest Missouri. Sellers said the storm that resulted in the damage in Cincinnati has become a lot less organized and "has weakened significantly."

According to records from the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., Friday's tornado fatalities are the first in the nation since Sept. 16, when a woman hit a falling tree while driving in Queens, N.Y., and a man was killed in his home at Belleville, W.Va.

The deaths push this year's count to 39 nationally, and to 5 in Arkansas.

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