Oklahoma tornado damage could top $2 bn

Washington, May 23 (IANS/EFE) The tornado that killed 24 people and injured more than 200 others in Moore, Oklahoma, could have done more than $2 billion worth of damage, officials said Wednesday.

State Insurance Commissioner John Doak announced that figure Wednesday in a statement to the press, adding that losses from the wreckage could equal the amount caused by the twister that struck Joplin, Missouri, in 2011, leaving 161 dead.

Nonetheless, a spokesperson from Doak’s office told EFE that these are still very preliminary estimates and are based solely on a visual evaluation of the devastated area.

Mick Cornett, mayor of Oklahoma City, a scant 20 km from Moore, estimated the losses between $1.5 billion and $2 billion, and the number of citizens affected at 36,000.

The National Weather Service classified the tornado as an EF5 – the most powerful – with winds of at least 320 kph (200 mph).

More than 13,000 homes were damaged by the tornado.

US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano toured Moore Wednesday and promised government aid to speed up the work of reconstruction.

The White House announced that President Barack Obama will visit Moore next Sunday to inspect “at first hand” the damage caused by the tornado.



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