OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A tornado swept through Oklahoma City on Thursday, flattening hundreds of homes and flinging cars and mobile homes across the landscape.
At least 118 people were injured in the Oklahoma City area, 20 critically, said Paul O'Leary, spokesman for the city's ambulance service. There were no immediate reports of fatalities.
The twister struck just as the afternoon rush hour was beginning, ripping roofs off homes and businesses and damaging a General Motors plant.
GM spokesman Dan Flores said employees at the plant had ample time to take shelter. No plant employees were hurt, but two truck drivers were injured.
Truck driver David Waller was on Interstate 40 when he saw the tornado coming his way. He parked his 18-wheeler and ran for a clump of bushes. He and two other men clung to a tree as the tornado passed by.
"I'm scared to death," said Waller, who was shaking, his clothes covered with mud. His semi was picked up by the tornado and dropped on its side.
For many Oklahomans, including Gov. Brad Henry, the tornado was eerily reminiscent of one that ripped through the Oklahoma City area on May 3, 1999, killing 44 people.
"Some of those very same parts were hit again today," Henry said. "Nature can be cruel, but Oklahomans are a resilient people and we will face this crisis with strength and resolve."
Tornado sirens sounded just before 5 p.m. and the twister touched down in suburban Moore 15 minutes later. It moved over Interstate 35 and a mall before moving to the northeast and into two more suburbs, Midwest City and Del City.
"You could see birds and all kinds of stuff flying around in it," said Jennifer Leger, an employee at a Subway sandwich shop. "We closed. We had the lights off and were just letting in people who were caught outside."
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