Oklahoma twister that hit Moore ‘more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb’
Tim Walker is The Independent’s Los Angeles correspondent, covering entertainment and other concerns from the West Coast of the US. He was previously a features writer and the editor of the paper’s diary column. His first novel, Completion, is being published in January 2014.
Wednesday 22 May 2013
The vast tornado that struck an Oklahoma suburb on Monday afternoon dwarfed even the Hiroshima atomic bomb in its destructive power, according to scientists.
The US National Weather Service said the twister was 1.3 miles wide, and cut a 17-mile-long swathe through Moore, now the only city in the world to have seen two EF-5 tornados, the most powerful category. The community of 56,000 also took a direct hit from a twister packing winds of more than 300mph in 1999.
As emergency workers continued the recovery effort, officials said the search for survivors of the devastating storm was nearing its end. The death toll was revised down from 51 to 24 after the state medical examiner said that some victims may have been mistakenly counted twice.
The dead included 10 children, seven of whom were killed when the storm ripped apart Plaza Towers Elementary School. Among those killed were seven-year-old Karinna Vargyas and her four-month-old sister Sydnee, who died at home. “We just don’t know what to do any more,” their father, Phillip Vargyas, said last night.
On Tuesday afternoon, Gary Bird, Moore’s fire chief, said he was “98 per cent sure” that there were no further victims or survivors left beneath the debris. No one had been found since Monday night.
Emergency crews reportedly struggled to navigate the storm-ravaged neighbourhoods as all the street signs had been destroyed; they were forced to use smartphones and GPS to pick their way through.
Schools, homes and hospitals were all levelled by the tornado, which is known to have injured at least 237 people. Some 100 survivors were pulled from the rubble.
This was the deadliest tornado to strike the US since 2011, when a twister ripped through Joplin, Missouri, claiming 161 lives.
The Mayor of Moore, Glenn Lewis, vowed to drive through a new law requiring stormproof shelters to be built in every new home. “We’ll try to get it passed as soon as we can,” he told CNN.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was due to travel to Oklahoma, while President Barack Obama will fly in on Sunday. A statement tonight said the President would “see first-hand the response to the devastating tornados, visit with impacted families, as well as thank first responders”.
Malaysia Airlines plane crash exposes alarming flaw in airline security: over one billion flights made last year without stolen-passport check
International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
Teacher shows sex tape featuring herself to pupils during class by mistake
Swarm of killer bees sting woman 1,000 times
Dead woman's body lay decomposing in garage for six years before she was found
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
Poor 'live like animals' says Boris's privately educated sister after going on 'poverty safari'
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
Vince Cable: Teachers 'know absolutely nothing' about the world of work
Ukraine crisis: Russia pledges to 'retaliate against sanctions' as Ukrainian president says Crimea vote will not be recognised
- 1 International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
- 2 Australian man Rod Sommerville reacts to bite from deadly snake by reaching for cold beer
- 3 Teacher shows sex tape featuring herself to pupils during class by mistake
- 4 Singapore sting: Sky-high prices are pushing locals to the edge of affordability
- 5 Exclusive: UK banks in row over Yulia Tymoshenko 'millions'
£40k to £50k pa OTE £80k: Charter Selection: My client, a leading profitable a...
£30k to £35k pa OTE £70k: Charter Selection: My client, a leading profitable a...
£50 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Group: Secondary Teaching Assistant (EAL...
£55000 per annum + superb benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Want to work in a L...