24 dead, 38 still unaccounted for after tornadoes rip through central Tennessee

At least 24 are dead and 38 missing after tornadoes hit central Tennessee early Tuesday morning, state officials said Tuesday evening.

"It hit so fast, a lot of folks didn't have time to take shelter," Putnam County Mayor Randy Porter said. “Many of these folks were sleeping.”

Officials in Putnam County, which was one of the hardest-hit areas, said children were among the dead, FOX 13 in Memphis reported.

At least two tornadoes blew through the state, causing significant damage near downtown Nashville and Putnam County around 80 miles east.

General view of a mural on heavily damaged The Basement East in the East Nashville neighborhood on March 3, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. A tornado passed through Nashville just after midnight leaving a wake of damage in its path including two people

Amid the damage was more than 100 destroyed buildings, downed power lines and a severely damaged airport.

John C. Tune Airport, Nashville International's sister airport in West Nashville, “sustained significant damage due to severe weather," spokeswoman Kym Gerlock said in a statement early Tuesday.

“We are resilient and we're going to rebuild,” Nashville Mayor John Cooper said.

The number of missing was down from 77 earlier in the day, officials said, along with a list of names posted on Facebook, FOX 13 and FOX 17 in Nashville reported.

Police and fire crews spent hours pulling survivors and bodies from wrecked buildings.

President Trump, who plans to visit the area Friday, sent his condolences to the state.

“I want to send my warm wishes to the great people of Tennessee," Trump said at the beginning of his speech at the National Association of Counties Legislative Conference Tuesday. ”Our hearts are full of sorrow for the lives that were lost."

"Last night was a reminder about how fragile life is," Nashville Mayor John Cooper told reporters at a news conference Tuesday morning.

The governor has declared a state of emergency and sent the National Guard to help with search and rescue efforts in Putnam County.

Early findings by National Weather Service survey teams indicated that the damage in Nashville and Wilson County to the east was inflicted by a tornado of at least EF-3 intensity, the agency said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Get updates on this story from foxnews.com.