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5 Dead In Oklahoma Tornado Outbreak

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Near Etowah, Oklahoma Near Etowah, Oklahoma
Storm damage across Central Oklahoma Storm damage across Central Oklahoma
Aerial pictures of damage in central Oklahoma Aerial pictures of damage in central Oklahoma
Storm damage across Central Oklahoma Storm damage across Central Oklahoma

Wire and Staff Reports

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Five people in Oklahoma have been killed in an outbreak of violent weather that dropped tornadoes across parts of Oklahoma and Kansas. 

Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management spokesman Jerry Lojka said two people were killed in Oklahoma City and three were killed in Cleveland County to the south of the city. 

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At least 58 others suffered injuries. 

Governor Brad Henry is planning a tour today of areas hit by deadly storms and tornadoes Monday. A spokesman for the governor announced plans for the tour, but said specific plans are not yet finalized.

The storms that hit Oklahoma Monday afternoon were part of a violent weather system that also spawned twisters in Kansas and that forecasters had been predicting since last week. 

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Near Seminole, about 60 miles east of Oklahoma City, at least two homes were leveled after a tornado went through, Emergency Management Director Ernie Willis said.

Emergency responders were going through the area to determine if anyone was hurt or trapped, he said. 

Widespread destruction led authorities to close Interstate 40, a major east-west route, in both directions just east of Oklahoma City. Traffic was backed up 3 miles. 

A Love's truck stop on I-40 took a direct hit.

Interstate 35, which runs from Mexico to Minnesota, also was closed briefly at the Kansas-Oklahoma border because overturned tractor-trailers blocked all lanes. At Moore, near Oklahoma City, trucks were overturned in the median but the road remained open. 

Statement from Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry:

"We are working to coordinate state and local response efforts as the storms continue to move across the state. 

Many communities have already suffered damages and we are doing everything we can to deliver them the help they need.

Emergency management officials, state troopers and other first responders are in the field and will remain there as long as assistance is needed.

I'm urging all Oklahomans to stay aware of the changing weather conditions, monitor television and radio forecasts and move quickly to take appropriate tornado precautions if they believe they are in the path of a storm. 

If your community has already been impacted by a storm, please heed the warnings and directions of your local authorities, refrain from touring damaged areas and allow first responders to do their job.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to all Oklahomans who have been impacted by the storms. We will be doing everything we can to help them in the hours and days to come." 

In Kansas, the most serious damage was reported in Belmont. Several homes were damaged in the town east of Topeka and widespread power outages were reported. No injuries were reported. 

Hours after hitting Oklahoma, the tornado-producing storm cell was moving into Arkansas. 

Oklahoma City and its suburbs saw three storms develop just to the west and each caused damage as they moved across an area home to 1.2 million people. 

The northern storm caused property damage near Edmond; two storms to the south turned into killers -- the one fatality near the truck stop and the three at Tecumseh, on the metro area's eastern edge. 

"We've had a very strange event: multiple tornadic portions with this event as it came through," said David Barnes, the emergency management director for Oklahoma County. "We have multiple vehicles overturned, a housing addition has had multiple homes destroyed."

In Alfalfa County, Sheriff Charlie Tucker said hail as big as baseballs broke the windshields of numerous cars and damaged some homes. 

"I came home once to look at my own personal vehicle and the windshield was all bashed out. The grandchildren's swing set was up and now it's gone, so there was straight-line winds that came through," Tucker said. 

The Storm Prediction Center at Norman had predicted the outbreak, saying the atmosphere had the right mix of winds, heat and moisture. One twister touched down just east of the center's building on the University of Oklahoma campus.

If you have a picture or video to share, e-mail them to pics@newson6.net. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

The map below shows where tornadoes were spotted Monday in Oklahoma. The information is from the National Weather Center. The data is considered preliminary.

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