PHOTOS: Tornado tears through Arkansas college town, with 6 hurt

National/World

JONESBORO, Ark. (AP) — A tornado ripped through northeast Arkansas on Saturday, leaving six people hurt after hitting commercial and residential areas in the college town of Jonesboro.

The six people reported injured were taken to a local hospital with minor juries, Jonesboro E-911 Director Jeff Presley said. The tornado did major damage at the Mall at Turtle Creek and Jonesboro Municipal Airport.

Like much of the rest of the world, Jonesboro is working to fight the spread of COVID-19. Because of that, most stores in the Mall at Turtle Creek were closed Saturday to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Severe weather could have been much worse if not for that, Presley said.

“At 5 o’clock on a Saturday afternoon that place would’ve been packed, and at this point there was hardly anyone in there,” Presley said. “It’s a blessing in disguise.”

Power was out in sections of the city, which affects the city’s traffic lights. Wreckage tossed about by the twister also blocked roads. They mayor issued a 7 p.m. curfew, and authorities asked people not to drive around.

The storm also derailed a train, Presley said. Crews were examining damage and trying to determine whether there it had been hauling anything hazardous.

The National Weather Service tweeted a video from the Arkansas Department of Transportation that showed a large tornado dropping from storm clouds in Jonesboro.

U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, who represents much of eastern Arkansas, said on Twitter that a tornado tore through “the heart of town” and asked for prayers for first responders. Crawford said his staff and family were safe.

Jonesboro is home to Arkansas State University. The university tweeted that campus was not damaged.

Forecasters with the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, warned that a severe weather outbreak was possible later Saturday for much of the central U.S.

The National Weather Service reported other possible tornadoes Saturday in Illinois and Iowa.

Gallery of tornado damage

Arkansas State Police and other first responders survey the damage in Jonesboro, Ark., Saturday, March 28, 2020, after a tornado touched down in the area. Officials in Arkansas say a tornado ripped through northeast Arkansas and hurt some people in the college town of Jonesboro. (Quentin Winstine/The Jonesboro Sun via AP)
A light pole is damaged and draped with debris after a tornado Saturday, March 28, 2020, at Jonesboro Municipal Airport in Jonesboro, Ark. (Quentin Winstine/The Jonesboro Sun via AP)
A group of people help clear debris and salvage items from Pawn Depot after a tornado touched down Saturday, March 28, 2020, in Jonesboro, Ark. (Quentin Winstine/The Jonesboro Sun via AP)
Meagen Matuszyk retrieves personal items from the trunk of her vehicle after it was turned on its side at The Mall at Turtle Creek in Jonesboro, Ark., Saturday, March 28, 2020, after a tornado touches down in the area. Matuszyk said she was in the Dillard’s store in the mall when the tornado passed. (Quentin Winstine/The Jonesboro Sun via AP)
A group of people stand outside a damaged Best Buy after a tornado touched down Saturday, March 28, 2020, at The Mall at Turtle Creek in Jonesboro, Ark. (Quentin Winstine/The Jonesboro Sun via AP)
A person walks past the damage to the rear side of a Dillard’s store after a tornado struck Saturday, March 28, 2020, at The Mall at Turtle Creek in Jonesboro, Ark. (Quentin Winstine/The Jonesboro Sun via AP)
Debris covers a parking lot as the sun sets after a tornado in Jonesboro, Ark., Saturday, March 28, 2020. (Quentin Winstine/The Jonesboro Sun via AP)
The damaged remains of a vehicle lie in a parking lot in front of a damaged Ashley Homestore after a tornado stuck Saturday, March 28, 2020, in Jonesboro, Ark. (Quentin Winstine/The Jonesboro Sun via AP)
Darrell Britt gets out of his vehicle to move debris as motorists are directed to drive through the parking lot at The Mall at Turtle Creek after a tornado touched down Saturday, March 28, 2020, in Jonesboro, Ark. (Quentin Winstine/The Jonesboro Sun via AP)

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