TUPELO, Mississippi (Reuters) - A tornado struck the south-central Mississippi town of Hattiesburg on Sunday, causing damage to the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi, authorities said.
CNN reported at least three people were injured and it showed footage of several homes badly damaged by the storm.
"A tornado did touchdown in Hattiesburg" at about 5:30 p.m. local time, Jim Hennessey, a spokesman for the Forrest County Emergency Management District.
"We're still getting damage reports," he told Reuters. "We haven't been able to verify the location where it touched down, and we have no verified reports of injuries at this time."
He added that there was unspecified damage to the University of Southern Mississippi campus. CNN reported that a local high school also was hit by the twister.
Jody Bass, a university professor interviewed on CNN, said the porches on his house "peeled off" and trees toppled onto his roof as he and his dogs huddled in a closet for safety.
"A lot of houses on this street are completely roofless," Bass said. He said he was not aware of any injuries in the immediate vicinity. He added that the campus was largely empty because students had an extended weekend to celebrate Mardi Gras.
Video footage posted on the Internet and broadcast on CNN showed what appeared to be a large, gray tornado, filmed from a distance, churning through town as a cloud of debris swirled around it.
Hattiesburg, located about 100 miles southeast of Jackson, the state capital, suffered heavy damage from Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
(Reporting by Emily Le Coz, Kaija Wilkinson and Chris Francescani; Additional reporting and writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Stacey Joyce)
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