Two people killed, around 40 buildings destroyed by Nashville tornado

A tornado struck Nashville, Tennessee in the early hours of Tuesday morning, killing at least two people, destroying around 40 buildings and leaving tens of thousands of people without power.

The Metro Nashville Police reported two fatalities in the East Nashville region. The Nashville fire department said it was responding to reports of approximately 40 structure collapses around Nashville.

The police department in the Mt Juliet suburb east of Nashville reported multiple homes damaged and people injured.

"There are gas lines that are leaking, power lines that are on the ground, and multiple emergency responders are responding to those who are injured," the Mt Juliet Police department said.

Tennessee is one of 14 US states that will vote on Tuesday in the contest to choose a Democratic nominee to stand against President Donald Trump in November.

Nashville's Emergency Operations Center announced it had opened an emergency shelter with running water in a farmer's market to help displaced residents.

Schools will be closed on Tuesday due to the tornado damage throughout Nashville, Metro Schools said, adding that election polling sites at schools will be open.

Nashville Electric, the city's public utility, said there were more than 44,000 customers without power early in the morning, with reported damage to four substations, 15 primary distribution lines, and multiple power poles and lines.

John C Tune Airport (JWN), located 8 miles from downtown Nashville, "sustained significant damage" due to severe weather and several hangars had been destroyed, the airport said on its website.

Several people took to Twitter to say they were without power in the region. Some posted videos of lightning flashing across the sky.