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Oklahoma tornadoes: Two people die in Atoka County twister

Oklahoma tornadoes: A tornado left a wide swath of destruction Thursday night. Two people died and a public school was destroyed.
BY BRYAN DEAN and TRICIA PEMBERTON Modified: April 15, 2011 at 9:55 pm •  Published: April 15, 2011
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— Residents began cleaning up Friday after a Thursday night tornado left at least two dead and as many as 100 homes and businesses destroyed in and near Tushka.

Two women were killed in a mobile home west of the town of about 350 residents, said Gilbert Wilson, emergency management director and county commissioner for Atoka County. Dozens more in the town were injured.

Between 25 and 35 people were treated at the Atoka County Medical Center, but all have been released, hospital Chief Executive Officer Paul Reano said Friday.

“We treated everything from scratches and bruises to lacerations and serious wounds,” Reano said. “We are not treating anyone at this time.”

At least five tornadoes touched down in the state. No major injuries were reported outside of the Tushka area, although some damage was reported from several other tornadoes and storm winds in Marshall, Osage, Lincoln and Delaware counties.

Gov. Mary Fallin on Friday declared a state of emergency in 26 counties, which will make it easier for local authorities to take advantage of state resources during cleanup efforts.

Counties in the declaration are: Atoka, Carter, Coal, Creek, Custer, Delaware, Harper, Johnston, Latimer, Le Flore, Lincoln, Love, Marshall, Murray, Okfuskee, Okmulgee, Osage, Pittsburg, Pontotoc, Pushmataha, Rogers, Seminole, Tulsa, Wagoner, Washington and Woodward.

EF-3 rating estimated

According to the National Weather Service, the Tushka tornado was rated EF-3 on the enhanced Fujita scale, which estimates the wind speed of tornadoes based on damage. An EF-3 can contain wind gusts of up to 165 mph.

Wilson said the tornado started four or five miles west of Tushka and traveled east, destroying homes and the school in the town about 120 miles southeast of Oklahoma City.

As many as 100 homes and businesses, including the Tushka public school, were destroyed by the storm that hit about 7:30 p.m., Wilson said. Authorities still are trying to determine the extent of the damage.

Tractor-trailer rigs and tree limbs were scattered on the main highway into Tushka, U.S. 69, and authorities closed some roads because of downed power lines and trees. Wilson said U.S. 69 was open Friday.

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