Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Oklahoma tornado spread destruction like a 'two-mile-wide lawnmower blade'

Gary Tuchman and Holly Yan in CNN: Even for a city toughened by disaster, Moore has never seen this kind of devastation. A massive, howling tornado pulverized a vast swath of the Oklahoma City suburbs Monday, chewing up homes and businesses, and severely damaging a hospital and two elementary schools.

The storm carved a trail through the area as much as two miles wide and 22 miles long, officials said. The storm killed dozens, but amid the confusion of search and rescue efforts, a precise death toll was hard to come by. Hundreds of people were injured.

Firefighters, police, National Guard members and volunteers worked by flashlight overnight and into Tuesday morning, crawling across piles of debris in a determined search for survivors and victims. Air National Guard members brought in thermal imaging equipment to aid in the work.

Complicating their efforts: downed power lines, hissing natural gas pipes and so much debris blocking roads it was difficult to bring in heavy equipment to help.

Still, more than 100 people had been pulled from the rubble alive since Monday afternoon, the state Highway Patrol said. Early Tuesday, authorities asked news crews to move satellite trucks from the scene because the idling engines were making it difficult for rescuers to listen for the faint sounds of survivors beneath the rubble....

The Moore, Oklahoma tornado on May 20, 2013, shot by Ks0stm, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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