51 killed in Okla. tornado; toll expected to rise
MOORE, Okla. (AP) - The Oklahoma Medical Examiner's Office says the official death toll in the aftermath of a massive tornado that slammed the Oklahoma City area remains at 51 but is expected to rise.
Spokeswoman Amy Elliott told The Associated Press early Tuesday that officials could see as many as 40 more deaths from the Monday's twister.
The tornado tore through parts of suburban Oklahoma City on Monday afternoon, flattening entire neighborhoods with winds up to 200 mph and landing a direct blow on an elementary school in Moore. At least 20 of the confirmed dead are children.
Obama declares major disaster in Oklahoma
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama has declared a major disaster in Oklahoma as the state recovers from a massive tornado that ripped through the Oklahoma City suburbs Monday, killing dozens and flattening entire neighborhoods.
Obama has ordered federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts. Individuals and business owners affected by the disaster may apply for federal grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs.
The president promised federal assistance in a phone conversation earlier Monday with Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (FAL'-ihn). The Federal Emergency Management Agency has sent a special team to Oklahoma's emergency operations center to help out and dispatch resources.
SEVERE WEATHER-TORNADO SPEED
NWS: Okla. tornado had winds up to 200 mph
MOORE, Okla. (AP) - The National Weather Service says the tornado that hit Moore, Okla., had wind speeds up to 200 mph.
The weather service's preliminary classification of Monday afternoon's tornado was an EF-4 on the enhanced Fujita scale.
Authorities say emergency crews are working to rescue people trapped in Moore, which is southwest of Oklahoma City.
Oklahoma City Police Capt. Dexter Nelson said emergency crews are trying to reach the affected areas. There were no immediate reports of injuries.
The suburb of Moore was hit hard by a tornado in 1999. The storm had the highest winds ever recorded near the earth's surface.
Okla. highways reopened after Moore tornado
MOORE, Okla. (AP) - Oklahoma highway officials say Interstate 35 in Moore has reopened in both directions.
But the Transportation Department said late Monday that travel in the Moore area was still discouraged.
The agency said first responders, utility crews and others performing official duties are working in the area and need clear lanes of travel.
The department says no other highways are closed due to the storms.
SEVERE WEATHER-OKLAHOMA-WATER TREATMENT
Okla. water treatment plant knocked out by storm
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Officials say the Draper Water Treatment Plant in Oklahoma City was knocked off line during the tornado.
The city is asking residents and businesses in southeast Oklahoma City to stop using water.
Crews are working to restore electricity to the plant with generators, and OG&E is on the scene and trying to reconnect power lines.
The city is asking that people make sure their sprinkler systems are turned off and that they postpone washing dishes and clothes and not operate appliances that use water.
SEVERE WEATHER-MEDICAL CENTER
Small suburban Oklahoma City hospital damaged
MOORE, Okla. (AP) - Officials say a tornado hit a small hospital in suburban Oklahoma City, but all the 30 patients inside survived.
Moore Medical Center spokeswoman Kelly Wells says the hospital was "pretty much destroyed" after Monday's tornado.
She said all of the 30 patients survived, as did all of the staff members at the 46-bed acute care hospital, which is southwest of Oklahoma City.
Wells says 13 patients were transferred to other facilities, though it wasn't clear if they were moved because of injuries sustained in the tornado or because of existing medical conditions.
Wells said all of the patients "amazingly" survived, but the rest of the building didn't.
SEVERE WEATHER-MOORE MAYOR
Okla. mayor says city already at work on recovery
MOORE, Okla. (AP) - Glenn Lewis was the mayor of Moore, Okla., when the strongest tornado on record whipped the city in 1999, and he says the most recent storm won't deter the community from rebuilding.
Monday's storm in the Oklahoma City suburbs left more than four dozen people dead. Lewis said this year's twister was bigger than one that hit in 1999, though its winds were not as strong. A city hospital and numerous businesses were damaged in Monday's twister, which had winds of up to 200 mph. Two elementary schools also were hit.
A storm in May 1999 had winds of 302 mph.
Lewis said the cleanup has already started - and that city workers were already at work printing new street signs to replace those that blew away.
Okla. AG seeks execution date for convicted killer
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Attorney General Scott Pruitt is asking for an execution date for a man convicted in the 1979 slaying of a woman in Tulsa.
Pruitt on Monday said in an appeals court filing that Anthony Rozelle Banks had exhausted his appeals. The U.S. Supreme Court earlier in the day turned away a request by Banks for a hearing.
The 60-year-old Banks wasn't charged until 1997 when he and a co-defendant were linked by DNA evidence to the killing of 24-year-old Sun "Kim" Travis.
Travis was kidnapped from a parking lot in Tulsa, raped and shot in the head.
Pruitt asked the Court of Criminal Appeals to set an execution date within 60 days or at the earliest date it deems fit.
Okla. House panel approves $40M for Indian museum
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - A plan to divert $40 million in use taxes over three years to help complete construction of an American Indian Cultural Center and Museum along the banks of the Oklahoma River has cleared a House committee.
A House budget panel on Monday voted 13-10 for the measure, which would divert the tax revenue beginning in fiscal year 2015. Use taxes are those paid on Internet purchases and tangible personal property purchased out of state and brought into Oklahoma. The taxes are expected to generate about $244 million next year.
Museum supporters say they've secured $40 million in pledges from private donors and only need one final $40 million appropriation from the Legislature to complete the project.
A separate $40 million for a museum in Tulsa will be considered Monday afternoon.
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