Deaths, Looting Blamed on Tornadoes in South

Tornadoes have been blamed for five deaths in Arkansas and for looting at a mall in Memphis, as parts of the South were hit by severe storms Tuesday.

About a half million dollars in merchandise has been stolen from Hickory Ridge Mall in Memphis that was hit by a possible tornado, according to a report by

Several people were trapped in the mall when the storm knocked part of the roof down, but no one was seriously injured, police said. Crews continued to battle poor light conditions in their rescue attempt as of 9 p.m. CT, reports.

Meanwhile, police in Jackson, Tenn., about 75 miles of northeast of Memphis, say storms damaged Union University.

Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe said five people were killed by tornadoes in Atkins, Clinton and Gassville.

In Atkins, storms hit about 20 homes and resulted in at least three deaths, according to the Pope County Sheriff's Department told KLRT-TV.

The tornado touched down near Highways 324 and 105, then stayed on the ground and passed into Conway County to the east, according to Renee Preslar, spokeswoman for the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management.

Authorities say a tornado touched down northeast of Memphis as part of a storm front that swept across west Tennessee as voters headed to the polls on Super Tuesday. No injuries were immediately reported.

Authorities confirmed a tornado touchdown near Arlington, about 25 miles northeast of downtown Memphis. The twister knocked out a radio tower for the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

Power outages, downed trees and other storm damage were reported across Shelby County.

And at least two tornadoes hit north Mississippi on Tuesday, tearing through buildings and ripping down power lines.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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