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Death toll from tornado hitting U.S. Oklahoma city rises to 37


13:54, May 21, 2013

HOUSTON, May 20 (Xinhua) -- At least 37 people were killed and many others were wounded when a storm with a massive tornado struck an area outside the U.S. city of Oklahoma on Monday afternoon, officials said.

The tornado ripped through Moore in the southern part of the Oklahoma city metropolitan area, devastating homes and buildings.

At least 37 people had been confirmed dead, ABC news quoted the state's chief medical examiner's office as reporting, adding that another 60 patients had been admitted to hospitals as more people emerged from the rubbles.

Briarwood Elementary School in Moore reportedly received a "direct hit" from the storm and was severely damaged. Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore was also on the twister's path.

The tornado was estimated to be at least two miles (3.2 km) wide at one point as it moved through Moore. Video coverage from CNN affiliates showed a funnel cloud stretching from the sky to the ground, kicking up debris.

Areas of metropolitan Oklahoma city appeared to be in ruins Monday afternoon after the tornado moved through the region, according to media reports.

"The houses are destroyed ... completely leveled," a helicopter pilot was quoted as saying.

"It is absolutely devastating. This is horrific," Oklahoma Lt. Gov Todd Lamb said, adding that there were going to be fatalities and significant injuries.

"We don't have the numbers yet but it is going to be significant and it is going to be horrific," said Lamb.

More than 32,000 electricity users in Oklahoma were left without power early Monday evening, local power providers said.

Monday afternoon's tornado came after tornadoes and powerful storms ripped through Oklahoma and the Midwest on Sunday and earlier Monday.

Two people were confirmed dead after tornadoes hit Oklahoma on Sunday, officials said Monday.

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