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Tornado kills four in Oklahoma

Wed., Feb. 11, 2009, midnight

OKLAHOMA CITY – A large, violent tornado ripped through a southern Oklahoma town late Tuesday evening, killing four people and injuring up to 50, authorities said. Severe weather also caused damage and power outages in metro Oklahoma City and western Texas.

At least four people were killed and between 20 and 50 were injured by the tornado in Lone Grove, the state Department of Emergency Management said. The town of about 4,600 people is about 100 miles south of Oklahoma City.

Damage in the town was extensive and ambulances and other first responders from communities near Lone Grove were heading there, said Amber Wilson, the emergency management director for nearby Ardmore.

“Basically, all we have, it is pretty bad,” said Chester Agan, assistant emergency manager for Carter County.

The National Weather Service said the tornado that hit Lone Grove was large and violent. At least two other twisters were confirmed, including one that damaged buildings in Oklahoma City and the northern suburb of Edmond.

At an Edmond business park, a body shop and the vehicles inside had been turned into a twisted ball of metal.

Shop manager Michael Jerry said he went home to eat and watch the weather reports as the storm moved into the area.

“It’s just surreal,” Jerry said. “You just don’t believe it. Especially knowing you were just there minutes before. The steel girders are in a ball.”

National Weather Service meteorologist Rick Smith said tornadoes are most numerous in Oklahoma in the spring, but can occur at any time. The threat for twisters even extended into early today, with the weather service issuing a new tornado watch for southeastern Oklahoma and adjacent northeast Texas.

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