Oklahoma City twister toll climbing

2013-06-01 17:50

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Oklahoma City - Nine people have died in the Oklahoma City area after a violent burst of tornadoes and thunderstorms overnight.

Amy Elliott with the state Medical Examiner's Office said on Saturday morning that nine fatalities had been confirmed. Two of the victims were children.

Hospital officials said at least 75 people were hurt during Friday night storms that hit at rush hour.

Reuters reported on Saturday that emergency officials had set out to determine the extent.

The storm toppled cars and left commuters trapped on an interstate highway as it bore down during Friday's evening rush hour near Oklahoma City.

The National Weather Service reported "several" tornadoes rolled in from the prairie, terrifying towns along their paths.

The storms brought another tense day for a region still reeling from the recent monstrous twister known as an EF, ranking at the top of the scale used to measure tornado strength, that struck the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore on 20 May, killing 24 people and decimating neighbourhoods.

Violent weather also moved through the S. Louis area.

Early aerial images of the storm's damage showed homes with porches ripped away, roofs torn off and piles of splintered wood scattered across the ground for blocks. Officials in St Charles County also reported that local schools suffered some damage.

Meteorologists had warned about particularly nasty weather Friday but said the storm's fury didn't match that of the tornado that struck Moore.

The Friday storm, however, brought with it much more severe flooding.

It dumped around 20cm of rain on Oklahoma City in the span of a few hours and made the tornado difficult to spot for motorists trying to beat it home, said Bruce Thoren, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Norman, Oklahoma.

"Some tornadoes are wrapped in rain, so it's basically impossible to see, which is extremely dangerous," Thoren said.

The US averages more than 1 200 tornadoes a year and most are relatively small. Of the 60 EF5 tornadoes to hit since 1950, Oklahoma and Alabama have been hit the most - seven times each.
- AP
Read more on:    us  |  weather  |  oklahoma tornado
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