US & Canada

New Oklahoma tornadoes 'kill nine'

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Media captionJournalist Brad Gibson: "Tornadoes are these beasts that come out of nowhere"

A new series of tornadoes has swept through the US state of Oklahoma, killing at least nine people, including two children, officials say.

The tornadoes struck near the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore, where 24 people were killed by a violent tornado nearly two weeks ago.

The latest storm struck during Friday's evening rush hour, trapping many people in cars and causing traffic chaos.

More than 60,000 homes lost power and heavy rain has caused severe flooding.

Many streets were inundated with up to 4ft (1.2 m) of water.

Storms also swept through Missouri, where Governor Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency.

The National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Centre said the severe weather was shifting eastward on Saturday, towards Ohio and the Mississippi River Valleys.

'Power flashes'

Image caption Many vehicles were overturned on Interstate 40

On Saturday morning, Amy Elliott, a spokeswoman for Oklahoma's Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, said nine fatalities had been confirmed, including two children and seven adults.

Among them were a mother and a baby found in a vehicle that was hit by the tornado as it passed over a major highway - Interstate 40 - near Oklahoma City. Dozens of lorries were also overturned.

Two other deaths occurred in Union City and one was in El Reno, west of Oklahoma City.

At least 75 people were injured, with five of them critically, hospital officials said.

Among those who took to the roads to flee the storm was 30-year-old Brandi Vanalphen.

"What got me scared was being stuck in traffic with sirens going off," she told Reuters.

"I started seeing power flashes to the north... I started driving on the shoulder. People started driving over the grass."

Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett said: "For reasons that are not clear to me, more people took to the roads, more than we expected. Everyone acted differently in this storm, and as a result, it created an extremely dangerous situation.

"I think we are still a little shaken by what happened in Moore. We are still burying children and victims, so our emotions are still strong," he added.

Meteorologists said the tornadoes were less severe than the one that struck Moore two weeks ago.

That tornado - ranked as an EF5, the most powerful - destroyed some 1,200 homes. About 33,000 people were affected and the damage has been estimated at $2bn (£1.32bn).

Oklahoma is in part of the US Midwest known as Tornado Alley. Some 1,200 tornadoes strike each year, though most are relatively small.

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