91 feared dead in Okhahoma tornado

21 May 2013


A tornado that hit Oklahoma with winds of 320 kilometres an hour yesterday, caused massive destruction with 91 people feared dead.

Rescue crews have been looking for survivors in Moore, an Oklahoma city suburb, where the tornado flattened entire neighborhoods and sent debris flying through the air.

The confirmed toll so far has been 51 dead including at least 20 young children who were inside a school at the time the tornado hit. According to a spokeswoman for the state's medical examiner's office today, they were expecting as many as 40 more fatalities. The number of injured stood at 120.

Several children were pulled out alive from the rubble of two schools that were hit.

According to Mary Fallin, Oklahoma governor who spoke to reporters, "hearts are broken'' for parents looking for their children. Fallin has deployed the state National Guard as also extra police to help with rescue operations.

Declaring a major disaster in Oklahoma as a result of the storm, president Obama ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide any assistance that the state needed.

Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano expressed sympathy for those impacted by the storm and pledged "all available resources" to help the affected areas.

Many land lines to stricken areas went down, and cellphone networks were congested. According to the governor, the storm was so massive that it would take time to establish communications between rescuers and state officials.

According to Oklahoma City Police captain Dexter Nelson, downed power lines and open gas lines posed a risk after the storm.

Yesterday's powerful tornado largely followed the path of a killer twister that hit the region in May 1999 which saw winds clocked at 300 mph.

According to the weather service yesterday's tornado was at least a half-mile wide.

According to Kelsey Angle, a weather service meteorologist in Kansas City, Missouri, it was rather unusual for two such powerful tornadoes to track roughly the same path.

The twister came as the fourth tornado to strike Moore since 1998. 

It was the fourth tornado to hit Moore since 1998. A tornado had also struck in 2003.

The devastation yesterday came almost exactly two years after an enormous twister ravaged the city of Joplin, Missouri leaving 158 people dead and hundreds more injured.

The 22 May tornado in 2011 was the deadliest in the US since modern tornado record keeping started in 1950, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The deadliest tornado before Joplin, was the one that struck Flint, Michigan in June 1953, when 116 people died.

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