Tornado kills 5 in US

2012-04-15 12:15

Oklahoma - Five people died when a tornado struck in and around the northwest Oklahoma town of Woodward early on Sunday, one of a series of tornadoes that erupted across the Midwest and Plains over the weekend, US authorities said.

Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management spokesperson Keli Cain said early on Sunday that state medical examiner's office had confirmed five fatalities in the Woodward area. Cain said she didn't know the gender or age of the victims or details of their death.

Woodward Mayor Roscoe Hill told AP that he didn't hear sirens before the tornado hit. The National Weather Service said the tornado struck at 12:18 on Sunday.

"We had a little tornado earlier ... and they blew all the sirens. When this one came in, our sirens weren't working. We didn't have a very good storm alert," Hill said.

Woodward, a town of about 12 000 people northwest of Oklahoma City, was among the many communities in the nation's midsection under a "high-end, life-threatening event" that had been issued by the Storm Prediction Centre in Norman, Oklahoma. The centre specialises in tornado forecasting and emitted the extraordinary warning nearly two days before the bad weather hit.

Hill said the tornado early on Sunday struck a mixed area of residences and businesses on the west side of Woodward and in nearby Tangier.

Woodward police said search and rescue units had gone to the damage area.