Oklahoma struck again; 5 dead

2013-06-01 07:40
A tornado forms over I-40 as seen looking west from Indian Meridian Road in Midwest City, Oklahoma. (Alonzo Adams, AP)

A tornado forms over I-40 as seen looking west from Indian Meridian Road in Midwest City, Oklahoma. (Alonzo Adams, AP)

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Oklahoma City - The US city hit by a deadly tornado less than two weeks ago was slammed again, and the Oklahoma medical examiner's office said five people were killed.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol said a mother and baby were among the dead, and emergency officials said reports of injuries were "widespread".

Tornadoes hit Oklahoma City on Friday evening, smashing vehicles along a major highway during rush hour. Highway Patrol Trooper Betsy Randolph said troopers found woman and baby near a vehicle along Interstate 40 west of the city.

About 50 people were hurt, five critically, hospital officials said.

But meteorologists said the fury of Friday's storm didn't match that of the one that struck Moore, the suburb where a top-of-the-scale tornado killed 24 on May 20.

"Not even close," Rick Smith, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service, said in a text message relayed by the Storm Prediction Centre.

Violent weather also moved through the St Louis area, ripping the roof off a suburban casino.

Passengers at Oklahoma City's Will Rogers World Airport were directed into underground tunnels, and inbound and outbound flights were cancelled.

Television cameras showed debris falling from the sky.

The region is in part of the Midwest US known as Tornado Alley. The US averages more than 1 200 tornadoes a year and most are relatively small.

Floodwaters up to 1.2 metres deep hampered Oklahoma City rescue attempts.

"We're scrambling around," said Lara O'Leary, a spokesperson for the local ambulance agency. "There is very low visibility with the heavy rain ... so we're having trouble getting around.

"The damage is very, very widespread."

Read more on:    us  |  weather  |  natural disasters  |  oklahoma tornado

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