Dozens Reported Injured as Tornadoes and Hail Rake Region 8

APRIL 3, 2006 - Posted at 7:44 a.m. CST

MARMADUKE, AR - Authorities say at least a half-dozen tornadoes that touched down in northeast Arkansas left behind trails of destroyed homes and businesses and injured dozens of people.  No deaths have been reported, however, as of early this morning.

Damage was widespread at Marmaduke in Greene County, about ten miles north of Paragould.

Acting fire commander Chris Franks said nearly every structure in Marmaduke was damaged, about half of the buildings in the town of 1,100 people were destroyed.

A spokesman at the Arkansas Methodist Medical Center at Paragould reported that the hospital had treated 45 people injured in the storms, most of them from Marmaduke.  The spokesman said many of those injuries were minor.

The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management said two people were also injured in Cross County, where a tornado was reported near Wynne.

Cross County emergency official Gerald Britton said early this morning that he knew of five injuries.

A Cross County sheriff's office dispatcher said heavy damage was inflicted on homes and businesses in an area about five miles south of Wynne, where several large trees were also uprooted.

Damage was also reported to the west in the Ravenden and Imboden areas of Lawrence County, as well as parts of Randolph County.

Huge hail, some as large as softballs, also fell in some places.  Newton Skiles, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service's office at North Little Rock, said that the extra-large hailstones fell mostly in rural areas, where there were few homes or vehicles to be damaged.  But Skiles said that in White County, four-inch hail penetrated a mobile home's roof and ceiling in several places, slamming into the interior of the residence.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)