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Likely Tornado Kills At Least 2 In Oklahoma

Emergency workers search through debris from a mobile home park in El Reno, Okla. early Sunday.
Sue Ogrocki
Emergency workers search through debris from a mobile home park in El Reno, Okla. early Sunday.

A possible tornado struck the Oklahoma city of El Reno Saturday night and killed at least two people.

In a news conference early Sunday morning, El Reno mayor Matt White said the storm hit at about 10:30 p.m., and warning sirens sounded at 10:27 p.m.

The storm destroyed an American Budget Value Inn, damaged the nearby Skyview Estates mobile home park and also affected nearby businesses, including a car dealership.

"People have absolutely lost everything," White said in a second press conference Sunday morning. "You're not going to believe some of the devastation when you see some of the pictures."

According to White, 29 people had been transported to local hospitals with injuries ranging from minor to critical. He said several hundred people have been affected or displaced.

The mobile home park, according to White, had 88 homes. Rescue efforts, which are still ongoing, are mainly focused on about 15 of them. White said all of the guests at the American Budget Value Inn had been accounted for as of Sunday morning.

El Reno sits 30 miles west of Oklahoma City. According to the 2010 census, its population is about 17,000.

The region has also experienced severe flooding this week. White got choked up as he spoke about local first responders.

"We've gone through situation after situation after situation, and they have gone nonstop," White said. "During the flooding, they had 40-something boat rescues ... and then this tornado happens."

This is not be the first destructive tornado to hit the city in recent years: In 2013, eight people in the El Reno area were killed by a tornado that swept across a broad area of Oklahoma.

The El Reno storm is the latest in a spate of deadly weather in the Midwest. Several tornadoes struck Missouri this past week, and both Missouri and Oklahoma have been experiencing severe flooding.

On Saturday, officials told some Tulsa residents they should consider leaving their homes. According to the Associated Press, the levees that help contain the Arkansas River are growing stressed.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jenny Gathright