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Oklahoma faces $2bn disaster damage bill

The cost of the massive Oklahoma tornado could top $2bn (€1.5bn), according to early estimates.

The tally is based on visual assessments of the extensive damage zone stretching more than 17 miles and the fact that the tornado was on the ground for 40 minutes.

An Oklahoma insurance department spokeswoman said the financial cost of Monday's tornado in Moore could be greater than that from the 2011 tornado that killed 158 people in Joplin, Missouri.

With no reports of anyone still missing and with the death toll at 24 people, nine of them children, authorities and residents have turned toward assessing the damage and plotting a future course for Moore, a town of about 56,000 which was also hit by a massive tornado in 1999.

Authorities have yet to present concrete numbers for how many homes were damaged or destroyed, but the view from the air shows whole neighbourhoods obliterated, with gouged earth littered with splintered wood and pulverised cars.

DEVASTATED

Rescue workers have been searching tirelessly for survivors and victims, and they planned to keep going – sometimes double and triple-checking home sites.

They were not certain how many homes were destroyed or how many families had been displaced. Emergency workers had trouble navigating devastated areas because there were no street signs left.

Some rescuers used smartphones or GPS devices to guide them through areas with no recognisable landmarks.

Moore fire chief Gary Bird said he was confident there are no more bodies or survivors in the rubble.

US President Barack Obama pledged to provide federal help and mourned the death of young children who were killed while "trying to take shelter in the safest place they knew – their school".

Irish Independent