published Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

UPDATED: 3 reported dead as powerful storms rake Tennessee

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Authorities say powerful storms packing high winds that tore roofs from buildings and flattened trees have left at least three people dead in eastern Tennessee.

Jill Lewis, an emergency management official in Cumberland County, confirmed one death from passing storms Wednesday evening in the area, located about 60 miles west of Knoxville. She had no immediate details.

Emergency officials and a National Weather Service spokeswoman reported a second death in Cumberland County and a third in DeKalb County as storms collapsed homes, downed power lines and did other damage.

The storms were part of a massive system sweeping across country that spun off tornadoes and caused destruction and deaths in southern Illinois and Missouri earlier Wednesday.

Authorities said teams would investigate Thursday to determine if tornadoes were involved in Tennessee.

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