Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 28 April 2015

Dozens feared dead after mile-wide tornado ravages Oklahoma

Two men attempt  to pry open a door on this car to check for victims in a business parking lot west of I-35 south of 4th Street  in Moore, on Monday, May 20, 2013
Two men attempt to pry open a door on this car to check for victims in a business parking lot west of I-35 south of 4th Street in Moore, on Monday, May 20, 2013
Workers continue to dig through the rubble of Plaza Towers Elementary School after a tornado moved through Moore, Okla., Monday, May 20, 2013. (AP Photo Sue Ogrocki)
This aerial photo shows damage to the Plaza Towers Elementary School after massive tornado hit Moore, Okla., Monday May 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Steve Gooch)
This aerial photo shows the remains of homes hit by a massive tornado in Moore, Okla., Monday May 20, 2013. A tornado roared through the Oklahoma City suburbs Monday, flattening entire neighborhoods, setting buildings on fire and landing a direct blow on an elementary school. (AP Photo/Steve Gooch)
A truck lays damaged in a field near the Moore Medical Center, background, after a tornado moves through Moore, Okla. on Monday, May 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)
A security officer marks vehicles with spray paint after checking for victims and determining no one is inside, at a business complex west of Interstate 35, south of 4th Street in Moore, Okla., on Monday, May 20, 2013. (AP Photo/The Oklahoman, Jim Beckel)
This aerial photo shows the remains of houses in Moore, Okla., following a tornado Monday, May 20, 2013. A tornado roared through the Oklahoma City suburbs Monday, flattening entire neighborhoods, setting buildings on fire and landing a direct blow on an elementary school. (AP Photo/Steve Gooch)
Rachel Hilton holds stray kittens she found in the debris of her parents' home at SW 149th and Stone Meadows Dr. after a tornado struck south Oklahoma City and Moore, Okla., Monday, May 20, 2013. (AP Photo/The Oklahoman, Nate Billings)
The Moore Medical Center and vehicles lay damaged after a tornado moves through Moore, Okla. on Monday, May 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)
A tornado moves through Moore, Okla. as northbound traffic on Interstate 35 stops at Indian Hills Road on Monday, May 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)
A teacher hugs a child at Briarwood Elementary school after a tornado destroyed the school in south Oklahoma City, Monday, May 20, 2013. A monstrous tornado roared through the Oklahoma City suburbs, flattening entire neighborhoods with winds up to 200 mph, setting buildings on fire and landing a direct blow on an elementary school. (AP Photo/The Oklahoman, Paul Hellstern)
Rescue workers dig through the rubble of a collapsed wall at the Plaza Tower Elementary School to free trapped students in Moore, Okla., following a tornado Monday, May 20, 2013. (AP Photo Sue Ogrocki)
A fire burns in the Tower Plaza Addition in Moore, Okla., following a tornado Monday, May 20, 2013. A tornado as much as a mile (1.6 kilometers) wide with winds up to 200 mph (320 kph) roared through the Oklahoma City suburbs Monday, flattening entire neighborhoods, setting buildings on fire and landing a direct blow on an elementary school. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
MOORE, OK - MAY 20: People walk through a damaged area near the Moore Warren Theater after a powerful tornado ripped through the area on May 20, 2013 in Moore, Oklahoma. The tornado, reported to be at least EF4 strength and two miles wide, touched down in the Oklahoma City area on Monday killing at least 51 people. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
MOORE, OK- MAY 20: Piles of debris and mangled trees remain after a powerful tornado ripped through the area on May 20, 2013 in Moore, Oklahoma. The tornado, reported to be at least EF4 strength and two miles wide, touched down in the Oklahoma City area on Monday killing at least 51 people. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
MOORE, OK- MAY 20: Dana Ulepich searches inside a room left standing at the back of her house destroyed after a powerful tornado ripped through the area on May 20, 2013 in Moore, Oklahoma. The tornado, reported to be at least EF4 strength and two miles wide, touched down in the Oklahoma City area on Monday killing at least 51 people. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images) ***BESTPIX***
A child calls to his father after being pulled from the rubble of the Tower Plaza Elementary School following a tornado in Moore, Okla., Monday, May 20, 2013
A woman carries her child through a field near the collapsed Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Oklahoma (AP, Sue Ogrocki)
A fire burns in the Tower Plaza Addition in Moore, Oklahoma following a tornado (AP/Sue Ogrocki)
Rescue workers dig through the rubble of the Plaza Tower Elementary School to free trapped students in Moore, Oklahoma (AP/Sue Ogrocki)
Lee Hoyle, of Chickasaw Nation search and rescue, digs through the debris of a mobile home in the Steelman Estates Mobile Home Park, destroyed by Sunday's tornado, near Shawnee, Okla., Monday, May 20, 2013. The tornado that slammed into Oklahoma on Sunday is now blamed for two deaths. Authorities say two men in their 70s have been found dead in or near a mobile home park outside of Shawnee. (AP Photo Sue Ogrocki)
Shawnee firefighters assist driver Marco Corr as he is taken from the cab of his overturned truck, in Shawnee, Okla., Sunday, May 19, 2013. Corr was taken out of the cab through the front windshield. A tornado caused extensive damage along Interstate 40 at the junction with U.S. 177. (AP Photo/The Oklahoman, Jim Beckel)
A tornado caused extensive damage along I-40 at the junction with US 177 on the west side of Shawnee, Okla., Sunday evening, May 19, 2013. (AP Photo/The Oklahoman, Jim Beckel)
Seven-year-old Katrina Ash, right, holds a doll as she waits in the back of a truck with her grandfather, Michael Bowen, left, after a tornado ripped through their neighbourhood near Dale, Oklahoma, Sunday, May 19, 2013. Residents are not being allowed back into the neighbourhood as search and rescue efforts take place. (AP Photo Sue Ogrocki)
A child calls to his father after being pulled from the rubble of the Tower Plaza Elementary School following a tornado in Moore, Okla., Monday, May 20, 2013.
Seven-year-old Katrina Ash, left, watches with her mother, Amber Ash, right, as heavy equipment is brought into their tornado damaged neighbourhood near Dale, Oklahoma, Sunday, May 19, 2013. Residents are not being allowed into the neighbourhood as search and rescue operations continue. (AP Photo Sue Ogrocki)
This photo provided by KFOR-TV shows a car pile-up outside Moore, Okla., Monday, May 20, 2013. A monstrous tornado as much as a mile wide roared through the Oklahoma City suburbs Monday, flattening entire neighborhoods, setting buildings on fire and landing a direct blow on an elementary school. (AP Photo/KFOR-TV)
This photo provided by KFOR-TV shows a car pile-up outside Moore, Okla., Monday, May 20, 2013. A monstrous tornado as much as a mile wide roared through the Oklahoma City suburbs Monday, flattening entire neighborhoods, setting buildings on fire and landing a direct blow on an elementary school. (AP Photo/KFOR-TV)
This photo provided by KFOR-TV shows homes flattened outside Moore, Okla., Monday, May 20, 2013. A monstrous tornado as much as a mile wide roared through the Oklahoma City suburbs Monday, flattening entire neighborhoods, setting buildings on fire and landing a direct blow on an elementary school. (AP Photo/KFOR-TV) MANDATORY CREDIT
This photo provided by KFOR-TV shows a house fire outside Moore, Okla., Monday, May 20, 2013. A monstrous tornado as much as a mile wide roared through the Oklahoma City suburbs Monday, flattening entire neighborhoods, setting buildings on fire and landing a direct blow on an elementary school. (AP Photo/KFOR-TV)
Kay James holds her cat as she sits in her driveway after her home was destroyed by the tornado that hit the area near 149th and Drexel on Monday, May 20, 2013 in Oklahoma City, Okla. (AP Photo/The Oklahoman, Chris Landsberger)
MOORE, OK- MAY 20: Yellow caution tape marks off the area surrounding the heavily damaged Moore Medical Center after a powerful tornado ripped through the area on May 20, 2013 in Moore, Oklahoma. The tornado, reported to be at least EF4 strength and two miles wide, touched down in the Oklahoma City area on Monday killing at least 51 people. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
MOORE, OK- MAY 20: Dana Ulepich searches inside a room left standing at the back of her house destroyed after a powerful tornado ripped through the area on May 20, 2013 in Moore, Oklahoma. The tornado, reported to be at least EF4 strength and two miles wide, touched down in the Oklahoma City area on Monday killing at least 51 people. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
MOORE, OK- MAY 20: Nathan Ulepich searches outside the back of his house destroyed after a powerful tornado ripped through the area on May 20, 2013 in Moore, Oklahoma. The tornado, reported to be at least EF4 strength and two miles wide, touched down in the Oklahoma City area on Monday killing at least 51 people. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
MOORE, OK- MAY 20: A Goodwill donation station is surrounded by debris after a powerful tornado ripped through the area on May 20, 2013 in Moore, Oklahoma. The tornado, reported to be at least EF4 strength and two miles wide, touched down in the Oklahoma City area on Monday killing at least 51 people. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
MOORE, OK - MAY 20: Chain link fence posts stripped and bent mark the boundary between two houses destroyed after a powerful tornado ripped through the area on May 20, 2013 in Moore, Oklahoma. The tornado, reported to be at least EF4 strength and two miles wide, touched down in the Oklahoma City area on Monday killing at least 51 people. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
MOORE, OK- MAY 20: Damaged vehicles are piled up in front of the Moore Warren Theater after a powerful tornado ripped through the area on May 20, 2013 in Moore, Oklahoma. The tornado, reported to be at least EF4 strength and two miles wide, touched down in the Oklahoma City area on Monday killing at least 51 people. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
MOORE, OK- MAY 20: Cars marked with an orange 'X', denoting they had been checked for occupants, are piled up in what was the front entrance to the damaged Moore Medical Center after a powerful tornado ripped through the area on May 20, 2013 in Moore, Oklahoma. The tornado, reported to be at least EF4 strength and two miles wide, touched down in the Oklahoma City area on Monday killing at least 51 people. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
MOORE, OK - MAY 20: Chain link fence posts stripped and bent mark the boundary between two houses destroyed after a powerful tornado ripped through the area on May 20, 2013 in Moore, Oklahoma. The tornado, reported to be at least EF4 strength and two miles wide, touched down in the Oklahoma City area on Monday killing at least 51 people. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
MOORE, OK- MAY 20: Cars marked with an orange 'X', denoting they had been checked for occupants, are piled up in what was the front entrance to the damaged Moore Medical Center after a powerful tornado ripped through the area on May 20, 2013 in Moore, Oklahoma. The tornado, reported to be at least EF4 strength and two miles wide, touched down in the Oklahoma City area on Monday killing at least 51 people. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
MOORE, OK - MAY 20: A vehicle lies upside down in the road after a powerful tornado ripped through the area on May 20, 2013 in Moore, Oklahoma. The tornado, reported to be at least EF4 strength and two miles wide, touched down in the Oklahoma City area on Monday killing at least 51 people. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
MOORE, OK - MAY 20: Debris covers the ground after a powerful tornado ripped through the area on May 20, 2013 in Moore, Oklahoma. The tornado, reported to be at least EF4 strength and two miles wide, touched down in the Oklahoma City area on Monday killing at least 51 people. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
MOORE, OK - MAY 20: Massive piles of debris cover the ground after a powerful tornado ripped through the area on May 20, 2013 in Moore, Oklahoma. The tornado, reported to be at least EF4 strength and two miles wide, touched down in the Oklahoma City area on Monday killing at least 51 people. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
MOORE, OK - MAY 20: (L - R) Yvonne Barragar, Joe Marshall and Barbara Garcia sit in front of Barragar's destroyed house after a powerful tornado ripped through the area on May 20, 2013 in Moore, Oklahoma. The tornado, reported to be at least EF4 strength and two miles wide, touched down in the Oklahoma City area on Monday killing at least 51 people. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
MOORE, OK- MAY 20: Philip Gotcher stands in the rubble of his house after a powerful tornado ripped through the area on May 20, 2013 in Moore, Oklahoma. The tornado, reported to be at least EF4 strength and two miles wide, touched down in the Oklahoma City area on Monday killing at least 51 people. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
MOORE, OK - MAY 20: Debris covers the ground after a powerful tornado ripped through the area on May 20, 2013 in Moore, Oklahoma. The tornado, reported to be at least EF4 strength and two miles wide, touched down in the Oklahoma City area on Monday killing at least 51 people. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
MOORE, OK- MAY 20: Philip Gotcher and his daughter Monica stand in the rubble of his house after a powerful tornado ripped through the area on May 20, 2013 in Moore, Oklahoma. The tornado, reported to be at least EF4 strength and two miles wide, touched down in the Oklahoma City area on Monday killing at least 51 people. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
MOORE, OK- MAY 20: Carlos and Kim Caudillo stand in the debris of their home after a powerful tornado ripped through the area on May 20, 2013 in Moore, Oklahoma. The tornado, reported to be at least EF4 strength and two miles wide, touched down in the Oklahoma City area on Monday killing at least 51 people. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
SHAWNEE, OK - MAY 20: Volunteers chain saw a fallen tree knocked down by a tornado May 20, 2013 near Shawnee, Oklahoma. A series of tornados moved across central Oklahoma May 19, killing two people and injuring at least 21. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
SHAWNEE, OK - MAY 20: A power line pole bent by a tornado stands over a street May 20, 2013 near Shawnee, Oklahoma. A series of tornados moved across central Oklahoma May 19, killing two people and injuring at least 21. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
SHAWNEE, OK - MAY 20: Candice Lopez (L) and Stephanie Davis help clean debris from Thelma Cox's mobile home after it was destroyed by a tornado May 20, 2013 near Shawnee, Oklahoma. A series of tornados moved across central Oklahoma May 19, killing two people and injuring at least 21. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
SHAWNEE, OK - MAY 20: Volunteers help clean out Jean McAdams' mobile home after it was overturned by a tornado May 20, 2013 near Shawnee, Oklahoma. A series of tornados moved across central Oklahoma May 19, killing two people and injuring at least 21. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
SHAWNEE, OK - MAY 20: Lonnie Langston talks about his garage that was swept off the concrete pad next to his house by a tornado May 20, 2013 near Shawnee, Oklahoma. A series of tornados moved across central Oklahoma May 19, killing two people and injuring at least 21. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
SHAWNEE, OK - MAY 20: A home sits damaged after a tornado moved through the area May 20, 2013 near Shawnee, Oklahoma. A series of tornados moved across central Oklahoma May 19, killing two people and injuring at least 21. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
SHAWNEE, OK - MAY 20: Kasey Clark sorts through the debris of her grandmother-in-law Thelma Cox's mobile home after it was destroyed by a tornado May 20, 2013 near Shawnee, Oklahoma. A series of tornados moved across central Oklahoma May 19, killing two people and injuring at least 21. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
SHAWNEE, OK - MAY 20: ers help with cleanup of Tom and Ronda Clark's property after it was damaged by a tornadMay 20, 2013 near Shawnee, Oklahoma. A series of tornados moved across central Oklahoma May 19, killing two people and injuring at least 21. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
SHAWNEE, OK - MAY 20: A piece of corrugated tin is draped over a power line after a tornado May 20, 2013 near Shawnee, Oklahoma. A series of tornados moved across central Oklahoma May 19, killing two people and injuring at least 21. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
SHAWNEE, OK - MAY 20: Volunteers help clean out Jean McAdams' mobile home after it was overturned by a tornado May 20, 2013 near Shawnee, Oklahoma. A series of tornados moved across central Oklahoma May 19, killing two people and injuring at least 21. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
SHAWNEE, OK - MAY 20: A volunteer helps clean up Jean McAdams' mobile home after it was overturned by a tornado May 20, 2013 near Shawnee, Oklahoma. A series of tornados moved across central Oklahoma May 19, killing two people and injuring at least 21. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX ***
SHAWNEE, OK - MAY 20: A volunteer helps clean up Jean McAdams' mobile home after it was overturned by a tornado May 20, 2013 near Shawnee, Oklahoma. A series of tornados moved across central Oklahoma May 19, killing two people and injuring at least 21. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
SHAWNEE, OK - MAY 20: An electrical pole lies on a Pottawatomie County road after a tornado May 20, 2013 near Shawnee, Oklahoma. A series of tornados moved across central Oklahoma May 19, killing two people and injuring at least 21. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
SHAWNEE, OK - MAY 20: Lonnie Langston stands near his garage that was swept off the concrete pad next to his house by a tornado May 20, 2013 near Shawnee, Oklahoma. A series of tornados moved across central Oklahoma May 19, killing two people and injuring at least 21. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
SHAWNEE, OK - MAY 20: A home sits damaged after a tornado moved through the area May 20, 2013 near Shawnee, Oklahoma. A series of tornados moved across central Oklahoma May 19, killing two people and injuring at least 21. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)

Dozens of people are feared dead, including seven children, after a huge tornado ripped through an Oklahoma town destroying scores of homes and a primary school.

Initially 51 victims were been confirmed dead with estimates of another 40 bodies remaining to be found. But medical examiners later revised the toll to at least 24 dead and think some victims were counted twice.

The half-mile-wide tornado hit the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore in the US Midwest with winds of 200 mph. It smashed its way across the community of 41,000 for 45 minutes Homes were crushed into piles of broken wood. Cars and trucks were left crumpled on the roadside.

More than 120 people were being treated at hospitals, including about 50 children.

President Barack Obama declared a major disaster and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts. State governor Mary Fallin said the search for survivors went on, adding: "Hearts are broken" for parents looking for their children.

At Plaza Towers Elementary School, the storm tore off the roof, knocked down walls and turned the playground into a mass of twisted plastic and metal.Children from the school were among the dead, but several were pulled alive from the rubble. Rescue workers passed the survivors down a human chain. A man with a megaphone called out the names of surviving children. Parents waited nearby, hoping to hear their names.

As dusk began to fall, heavy equipment was rolled up to the school, and emergency workers crawled among the ruins. Because the ground was muddy, bulldozers and diggers were getting stuck. Men used jackhammers and sledgehammers to tear away concrete, and chunks were being thrown to the side as the workers dug.

Another school, Briarwood Elementary, was also damaged by the tornado, but not as extensively as Plaza Towers. The tornado also destroyed the city hospital and numerous businesses. Moore Mayor Glenn Lewis watched it pass through from his jewellery shop."All of my employees were in the vault," he said.

Mr Lewis, who was also the mayor of Moore when the strongest tornado on record whipped the city in 1999, said the most recent storm will not deter the community from rebuilding. In May 1999 a storm produced the highest winds ever recorded near the Earth's surface - 302 mph. It was the fourth tornado to hit Moore since 1998. A twister also struck in 2003.

The devastation in Oklahoma came almost exactly two years after an enormous twister ripped through the city of Joplin, Missouri, killing 158 people and injuring hundreds more.

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