Debris left on the ground after a home and barn were destroyed by the tornadoThe tornado caused damage in north-west Arkansas

Three people have died after a tornado struck the small town of Cincinnati in Arkansas, according to local officials.

The storm caused damage near a local highway in the town’s centre and points west of Washington County, county dispatcher Josh Howerton said.

There were “lots of injuries”, he added, quoted by AP news agency.

The storm also caused damage in the town of Tontitown, the deputy emergency manager for Washington County said.

Rick Johnson said emergency responders are experiencing difficulties in reaching the damaged areas because of power lines that have been knocked down.

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

The tornado hit Cincinnati, located about 20 miles (32km) west of the city of Fayetteville, around 0600 local time (1200GMT), said Joe Sellers, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oklahoma.

The storm system also injured at least two people and caused damage to five homes in Benton County, a region near the Arkansas state lines with the states of Oklahoma and Missouri, Matt Garrity, the county’s manager of emergency services, told the CNN news network.

Map of Arkansas

Homes were damaged in the county, and the local airport has closed due to debris in the region, Mr Garrity said.

Tornado warnings were issued by the weather service for north-west Arkansas and parts of Missouri.

The storm system that caused the tornado is moving northeast into Missouri and is maintaining its strength, which is an unusual occurrence, Mr Sellers said.

He added that a combination of warm, wet air in the region and colder air moving in from the west created the conditions necessary for the tornado.

“Anytime you have a significant change in air mass there is going to be unsettled weather marking the two different air masses,” Mr Sellers told AP.

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