Dozens of tornadoes strike central U.S., at least 5 killed

An image shows damage caused by a tornado in Sulphur, Oklahoma, United States, April 28, 2024. /CFP

An image shows damage caused by a tornado in Sulphur, Oklahoma, United States, April 28, 2024. /CFP

At least five people died, including a four-month-old baby, and scores were injured in Oklahoma this weekend after dozens of twisters swept the U.S. Southern Plains, while weather alerts on Sunday put more than 7 million Americans under tornado warnings.

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt on Sunday declared a disaster emergency for the state, freeing up more money for first responders and recovery operations.

“Definitely the most damage since I’ve been governor,” Stitt said in Sulphur, one of the hardest-hit communities, on Sunday afternoon as he provided an update on fatalities and damage.

Storm warnings for high winds, heavy rain and hail also were issued by the National Weather Service (NWS) on Sunday for more than 47 million people stretching from East Texas north through Illinois and Wisconsin.

The NWS reported that 38 possible twisters hit the area and that the worst of the storms rolled through Central Oklahoma on Saturday into early Sunday morning, spreading into northwest Texas, western Missouri and Kansas.

The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management said area hospitals reported 100 injuries. Twisters destroyed or damaged dozens of structures, including a hospital in the town of Marietta, although no injuries were reported there.

More than 25,000 homes in Texas and more than 19,000 in Oklahoma were without power as of Sunday afternoon, the website reported.

U.S. President Joe Biden on Sunday declared a major disaster over the severe winter storms that flooded the State of Washington and Kansas, the White House said in a statement. The president ordered federal assistance to supplement recovery efforts in the areas affected by the winter storms.

(With input from agencies)