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Baby among 2 people killed as a swarm of tornadoes hits heartland: Officials

todayApril 28, 2024

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ABC News

At least two deaths, including one of a 4-month-old child in Oklahoma, were confirmed Sunday from a severe storm that swept through the heartland, spawning multiple tornadoes across four states, including a powerful pair of twisters that touched down in Nebraska, officials said.

Emergency officials in Hughes County, Oklahoma, said the baby was one of two people killed in storms that struck Holdenville.

Sunday marks the third day of the severe weather outbreak across the heartland states. More than 22 million people are under a threat of violent storms Sunday in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas and Illinois.

Holdenville, a town of about 6,000 people 77 miles southeast of Oklahoma City, was left reeling after a violent tornado touched down near the city late Saturday amid a statewide tornado outbreak.

A search for victims and an assessment of damage was launched Saturday night after storms passed through the area, Hughes County Emergency Management officials said.

At least four other people were injured in the Hughes County storms, including three with major injuries, Hughes County officials said.

A Holdenville family told Oklahoma City ABC affiliate station KOCO that a relative lost their home in the storm and remained hospitalized Sunday.

At one point, crews searched the damaged Holdenville home for the child before finding the baby, who was pronounced dead at a hospital, according to the Hughes County emergency manager.

“My prayers are with those who lost loved ones as tornadoes ripped through Oklahoma last night,” Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said in a statement Sunday. “Thank you to Oklahoma Emergency Management and those who have worked through the night to keep Oklahomans safe and have worked to clear debris and assess damage.”

A destructive tornado also hit Sulfur, Oklahoma, in Murray County, destroying buildings and scattering debris for miles, authorities said.

Tornadoes were reported Saturday across Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas and Nebraska, officials said. There were nearly 120 tornado reports in the last two days, according to the National Weather Service.

NWS teams were working Sunday to confirm the tornado reports but cautioned that the numbers are constantly being adjusted as new reports come in and duplicates are removed.

An enhanced risk for severe thunderstorms is in the outlook Sunday from eastern Texas to southern Missouri, as well as the possibility of strong tornadoes, damaging wind and large hail.

While Oklahoma was taking the brunt of the tornado outbreak, Nebraska endured the strongest tornados confirmed on Saturday.

Preliminary information suggests that two “strong, rare tornadoes” touched down in Douglas County, Chris Franks with the National Weather Service said during a press briefing Saturday. The NWS found evidence of EF-2 and EF-3 tornado damage there following Friday’s storms, Franks said.

No fatalities have been reported so far following the Nebraska storms, officials said.

Widespread damage was reported in the Elkhorn neighborhood of Omaha, officials said. New photos emerged Sunday showing numerous destroyed homes in the area.

“For that big of a storm, to have the property damage that was so extensive, without the loss of life,” Douglas County Emergency Management Director Paul Johnson said during the press briefing. “It’s a tremendous attribute to the city of Omaha.”

Another tornado emergency was issued Saturday for Knox City, Texas, where a large and damaging tornado was reported near the town. Baseball-sized hail was also reported with this tornadic storm, officials said.

A tornado was also confirmed Saturday near the intersection of Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri. The confirmed tornado was eight miles north of Robinson, Kansas.

Storms are forecast to continue Sunday across the multistate region with heavy rain expected at times.

A flood watch remains in effect Sunday for a large area in the southern Plains and Ozarks, covering portions of seven states. Flash flood warnings were issued Saturday night and into Sunday morning as many communities reported 2 to 5-plus inches of rainfall and emergency officials urged residents to avoid flooded roads.

ABC News’ Jessica Gorman and Alexandra Faul contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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