TOWNSEND, Tenn. (AP) -- Violent thunderstorms have slammed into parts of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and nearby communities in East Tennessee, toppling trees onto streets and homes, leaving tens of thousands without power and stranding and injuring park visitors.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that the storms barreled through the area late Thursday afternoon, bringing winds of up to 70 mph.

Park spokeswoman Melissa Cobern told the newspaper that park rangers and emergency personnel were checking on reports of fatalities and people in distress. Some motorists were believed to be trapped in their vehicles, but crews were having difficulty getting deep into the park.

Deputy Park Superintendent Kevin Fitzgerald estimated that at least a dozen people were injured by the storms. He said park officials were "calling all hands on deck."

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