Oklahoma tornado death toll still rising

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The Independent Online
RESIDENTS OF some of the suburbs of Oklahoma City most severely damaged by Monday night's tornadoes were finally allowed back to their ruined homes yesterday as officials struggled to settle on a final death toll for the disaster.

The names of 38 people killed in the area struck by the tornado have been released by the authorities. There was still concern, however, that the number could mount, even significantly. "We have 100 missing-persons reports for people who are still unaccounted for," said Ray Blakeney of the state medical examiner's office.

Even three days after the tornadoes, the most deadly to hit Oklahoma in half a century, there are grisly surprises in the rubble. Late on Wednesday, an 11-year-old boy stumbled on a leg, cut off beneath the knee, lying by a road. Officials believed it belonged to a body found on Monday several miles away.

Damage caused by the storms has been estimated at $500m (pounds 300m), with some officials expecting it to rise to $1bn. Vice President Al Gore yesterday visited areas south of Wichita, Kansas, also struck by the tornadoes. President Clinton will be in Oklahoma City to inspect the damage tomorrow.