Tigers, bears escape from wildlife park as tornadoes hit central US

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Severe Tornado Weather Kansas A large tornado passes just to the west of the city of Halstead, Kan., Wednesday, May 6, 2015. (Travis Heying/The Wichita Eagle via AP)

A series of tornadoes touched down southwest of Oklahoma City on Wednesday, injuring several residents of a trailer park, causing severe flooding and a temporary escape of tigers, bears, and other animals from a wildlife park, officials said.

No deaths were reported, but some residents of a trailer park were treated at local hospitals, according to a police spokeswoman. The Oklahoman newspaper reported 12 people injured.

The tornadoes flipped cars, downed power lines, snapped trees, and damaged homes and other structures, with broadcast footage showing piles of scattered debris amid farmland. Several roads were closed because of debris.

Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, touring a damaged area on Thursday, said the damage was acute.

“I just think that the destruction is a lot more serious and worse than I imagined. It’s a relatively small and defined area, but the destruction is total,” he said.

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Police said two people were hurt in a weather-related road accident. The Oklahoman reported a third was injured when entering a storm shelter and a fourth person by flying debris.

Several tigers, bears, and other animals escaped from enclosures at Tiger Safari park after a tornado struck the city of Tuttle 30 miles (48 km) southwest of Oklahoma City, the Grady County Sheriff’s Office said. The animals were rounded up soon afterward without incident.

A storm system brought severe weather to several Great Plains states and the National Weather Service issued a tornado watch for an area stretching from central Texas to central Nebraska. About two dozen tornadoes were reported in the area. The NWS issued a flash flood emergency for downtown Oklahoma City amid storms and heavy rain in the broader area, the first such warning in city history. It said the airport received 6.9 inches (17.5 cm) of rain for the day.

Grady County officials said 10 homes in the nearby town of Amber were damaged along with 25 homes in Bridge Creek. South Oklahoma City reported a hotel along Interstate 35 was among other structures damaged. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission said more than 10,000 homes and businesses were without power statewide.

Article by Reuters