Wednesday 21 February 2018

Nine die as killer twisters strike again

A police officer offers directions to a driver leaving this heavily damaged supply yard for Cactus Drilling Company
A police officer offers directions to a driver leaving this heavily damaged supply yard for Cactus Drilling Company

Nick Allen

Oklahoma has been hit by another deadly series of tornadoes that left at least nine people dead, including a mother and her baby, who were sucked out of a car.

The tornadoes ripped through the areas of El Reno, Union City and Yukon, just west of Oklahoma City and about 20 miles from Moore, which was devastated by a twister that killed 24 people last month.

At least 70 people were injured, five of them critically, in the latest storms.

Five tornadoes struck with winds of up to 90mph, accompanied by large hailstones. The storms flipped cars and trapped people in their vehicles during rush hour.

As the extent of the devastation became clear yesterday, clean-up efforts were complicated by severe flooding.

Streets were left looking like rivers and littered with toppled trucks and wrecked cars. The bodies of the woman and child who died were found near their vehicle on the Interstate 40 highway.

Brandi Vanalphen, 30, who was among the hundreds of drivers trapped, said: "What got me scared was being stuck in traffic with sirens going off.

"I started seeing power flashes to the north. I started driving on the shoulder. People started driving over the grass."

Mick Cornett, the Oklahoma City mayor, said: "For reasons that are not clear to me, more people took to the roads than we expected.

"Everyone acted differently, and as a result it created a dangerous situation. We are still shaken by what happened in Moore. We are still burying children and victims."

Amy Sharp, who pulled her daughter from the wreckage of Plaza Towers school in Moore, told a local television station: "I'm in a car running from the tornado, I'm with my children who wanted their mother out of that town."

Glenn Lewis, the mayor of Moore, said: "There's damage everywhere. I can't even get home to see if my house is okay. This is unbelievable that it could possibly even hit again. We just started picking up debris two days ago."

More than 170,000 people were said to have lost power in the Oklahoma City area. Passengers were led away from the city's airport through a tunnel and flights were suspended.

Keli Cain, a hospital spokeswoman, said: "We will have to wait for flood waters to recede before we get out to assess damage."

The storms were less severe than the one that hit Moore two weeks ago, but residents were still reeling. One of them, Steve Cobb, said: "They were pretty upset. We're pretty scared here. We're terrified."

© Telegraph

Irish Independent

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