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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

One dead and dozens hurt as tornadoes hit Texas and Oklahoma

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Tornadoes tore through parts of Texas and Oklahoma on Friday, killing at least one person, injuring two dozens others and leaving scores of homes and buildings in ruins.

Tornadoes hit McCurtain County, Oklahoma, in the southeastern corner of the state. Cody McDaniel, the county’s emergency manager, confirmed one death.

The small town of Idabel saw a church, medical centre and a school torn apart.

“There was total destruction on the south and east sides of Idabel,” Steven Carter, an emergency management coordinator for McCurtain County, said, adding that people were still trapped late on Friday.

Governor Kevin Stitt said search-and-rescue teams and generators were being sent to the Idabel area.

“Praying for Oklahomans impacted by today’s tornadoes,” Mr Stitt tweeted.

Keli Cain of the Oklahoma Emergency Management Office said at least three other counties were also hit by storms, with flash flooding in some areas.

The National Weather Service said tornadoes also were reported in Texas and Arkansas and a storm system was heading toward Louisiana.

In Texas, authorities in Lamar County said at least 50 homes were damaged or destroyed and 10 people were treated at one hospital, including two with critical injuries. No deaths were immediately reported.

Judge Brandon Bell, the county’s highest elected official, declared a disaster in the area, a step in getting federal assistance and funding. Bell’s declaration said at least two dozen people were injured across the county.

One community hit hard was Powderly, about 72 kilometres west of Idabel and about 193 kilometres north-east of Dallas. Both Powderly and Idabel are near the Texas-Oklahoma border.

The Lamar County Sheriff’s Office and Emergency Management said the tornado touched down shortly after 4pm and travelled north through the communities of Hopewell, Caviness, Beaver Creek and Powderly.

Randi Johnson, chief of the Powderly Volunteer Fire Department, said: “It’s going to take a long time to get this cleaned up, but the community came together. It’s really heartbreaking to see.”

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