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Death toll rises after devastating storms hit the central U.S.


Rodrigo Cokting
Staff writer

Monday, June 3, 2013, 10:45 -

To give you an idea of just how devastating the storms in the central U.S. have been, we're still seeing new videos of the damage done by tornadoes in Oklahoma. 

Storm chaser Daniel Shaw shot this video of tornadic winds flipping the tractor trailer onto its side.

A second tornado outbreak has cemented Oklahoma's position as one of the worst hit areas this season. 

A powerful EF-5 twister reached speeds of up to 260 km/h, causing death and destruction in El Reno, Oklahoma, just 50 km away from the state's capital Oklahoma City on Friday. 

The strong winds uprooted trees and downed power lines all across the region, leaving nearly 25,000 customers powerless, according to Oklahoma Gas and Electric.

Three Oklahoma City-area medical facilities were left running on generators on Saturday. 

The tornado also yanked off the roof of Oklahoma City's Will Rogers World Airport, where about 1,500 residents had taken shelter. 

At least 16 lives were lost on Friday, while the search continues for more than six people that have been reported missing since the tornado hit. 

At one point, power outages and debris on the runway forced the airport to cancel all flights. Between 200 and 270 mm of rain fell in the city, causing widespread flooding that officials described as "overwhelming." 

Among the victims of the tornado were three storm chasers. Tim Samaras, his son Paul Samaras and their chase partner Carl Young. Tim Samaras, star of the TV show Storm Chasers, was also the the field coordinator for TWISTEX — a tornado research experiment he founded.

The damage brought upon by the tornado occurred only a few miles north of Moore, the suburb hit by an EF-5 tornado on May 20 that killed 24 people. 

The state issued flood warnings for many parts of Oklahoma on Monday morning. Storms could continue to develop throughout the week with thunderstorms likely on Wednesday.

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