Tornado in NE Okla kills at least 7 in town of Picher

Monday, May 12th 2008, 8:51 am
By: News 9

Associated Press

PICHER, Okla. -- A tornado roared through the northeast Oklahoma town of Picher Sunday, killing at least seven people and leaving widespread destruction.

Oklahoma Highway Patrol Lt. George Brown says the death toll was increased early Sunday morning after an infant was found dead.

Oklahoma Emergency Management spokeswoman Michelann Ooten and Brown confirmed the fatalities and says the death toll could go higher. She says numerous injuries also were reported in the town.

Governor Brad Henry sent National Guard troops and other emergency personnel into the area to help with disaster relief efforts. He planned to visit the area Monday.

Public access to the town was blocked so emergency personnel could to their work.

Ooten says emergency workers are digging through rubble of damaged homes in a 20-block area. She says other major damage also was reported in the nearby towns of Peoria and Quapaw.

Gov. Brad Henry issued a statement saying a major emergency response was under way. He planned to visit the area Monday.

Another tornado was spotted near McAlester in eastern Oklahoma Sunday, but no injuries were reported in that twister.

Missouri officials say at least five people died in the southwestern corner of that state after storms. Three people died after the Picher tornado hit near Seneca, Missouri, about 15 miles away in Newton County.