A general view shows damage during a rain-wrapped tornado in Cole, Oklahoma, U.S., April 19, 2023, in this screen grab obtained from a social media video. Hans Duran/via REUTERS
By Brendan O’Brien
(Reuters) -Teams of rescue workers and emergency crews on Thursday combed through flattened homes in central Oklahoma after a reported tornado touched down in the area, killing at least two people.
The two fatalities were reported in McClain County, where crews responded overnight to several people injured and trapped in their homes after a twister touched down on Wednesday night, county officials said on Facebook (NASDAQ:META). The officials urged residents to stay out of the affected areas.
“Based on the damage reports that we’re getting back, as significant as it is, there could be more injuries or deaths that we don’t know about at this time,” McClain County Sheriff deputy Scott Gibbons told KFOR-TV in Oklahoma City.
Video footage and photographs from Cole, a rural town of 600 about 30 miles (48 km) south of Oklahoma City, showed leveled homes and debris fields.
The reported tornado was part of a swarm of 18 twisters sited by spotters in Oklahoma, Iowa and Kansas, the National Weather Service (NWS) said.
The dangerous weather was expected to continue throughout the day on Thursday with the possibility of more tornadoes, along with scattered severe thunderstorms and large hail in the forecast for northeast Kansas into southwest Iowa, the National Weather Service (NWS) said.
Almost 20,000 customers in Oklahoma remained without power as of early Thursday due to the storms, according to the website .
This comes weeks after a tornado tore through southeastern Missouri, killing five people. A previous bout of thunderstorms also unleashed a tornado last month that devastated the town of Rolling Fork, Mississippi, destroying many of the community’s 400 homes and killing 26 people.