Tornadoes kill seven in south and mid-western US

Image caption,
A tornado caused extensive damage in the town of Cincinnati in Arkansas

A series of tornadoes in the south and mid-western US has killed seven people, injured several others and caused power failures for thousands in the region.

Three residents of the small town of Cincinnati in Arkansas were killed early on Friday.

Tornadoes were later blamed for the deaths of three people in southern Missouri, officials said.

And a woman seriously hurt on Friday near the south-east Missouri town of Rolla died in hospital on Saturday.

Several other people in Arkansas and Missouri were injured.

The tornado in Cincinnati caused damage near a local highway in the town's centre and points west of Washington County in Arkansas, county dispatcher Josh Howerton said, adding that there were "lots of injuries".

"It sucked me out of my house and carried me across the road and dropped me," Chris Sizemore, a resident of Cincinnati, told the Associated Press news agency.

The tornado hit the town, located about 20 miles (32km) west of the city of Fayetteville, around 0610 local time (1210GMT) on Friday, said Joe Sellers, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oklahoma.

Tornado warnings were issued by the weather service for north-west Arkansas roughly 10 minutes before the storm struck.

Emergency responders were experiencing difficulties early on Friday in reaching damaged areas in the region because of power lines that had been knocked down, Rick Johnson, the deputy emergency manager for Washington County, said.

The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management said that power was out throughout Washington County.

A local airport cancelled flights due to debris on its runway in Benton County, a region near the Arkansas state lines with Oklahoma and Missouri, Matt Garrity, the county's manager of emergency services, told the CNN news network.

Destruction in Missouri

Emergency Management Coordinator Brad Nash said two people died in Dent county in Missouri due to a violent storm. A third woman died when her home north of Rolla county was destroyed.

A storm destroyed three mobile homes and damaged other properties in Dent county, the National Weather Service said.

Nearby Pulaski County was also hit.

"There were several houses with half of them gone, roofs missing, power lines down, trees snapped off," paramedic Penny Cash told AP.

A combination of warm, wet air in the region and colder air moving in from the west created the conditions necessary for the tornado, Mr Sellers said.

"Anytime you have a significant change in air mass there is going to be unsettled weather marking the two different air masses," he added.

The deaths in Cincinnati and Missouri pushed this year's count of tornado-related fatalities in the US to 42.

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