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Last Updated: Saturday, 10 May, 2003, 21:31 GMT 22:31 UK
Tornado-hit state gets aid
Power lines come down in Edmond, Oklahoma
Tornadoes have cost Oklahoma more than $100 million

Oklahoma has been declared a major disaster area by President Bush after two days of tornadoes caused widespread damage.

The presidential declaration clears the way for the entire state to receive federal aid to help those left without homes and businesses.

Oklahoma City was hit by two tornadoes - one that cut a 19-mile long path through the southern suburbs on Thursday and a second that struck the north on Friday.

More than 130 people were injured and 300 homes destroyed - causing an estimated $100m worth of damage - when Thursday's twister hit.

There were no serious injuries reported during Friday's tornado, with rescue workers saying people had heeded the warnings and immediately sought shelter.

We just don't have a down day, that's what's been very unusual
Rich Thompson, Storm Prediction Center

However, dozens of airplanes at the Wiley Post Airport, seven miles northwest of Oklahoma City, are said to have been badly damaged.

A highway, the Interstate 35 in northern Oklahoma City, had to be closed after power lines fell across it and the roof of a school was torn off.

The utility company OG&E said on Saturday that around 18,000 people were without power

Worst recorded

The White House said assistance could "include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses" as well as aid for individuals and businesses.

It is four years since Oklahoma was struck by one of the worst recorded tornadoes in America history, which killed 47 people.

Around 44 people were killed in Missouri, Tennessee, Kansas, Georgia and Illinois by last week's barrage of tornadoes.

The Storm Prediction Center of the US National Weather Service says 298 tornadoes have been reported - the most in one week since records began in the 1950s.

"We just don't have a down day; that's what's been very unusual. It just doesn't seem to stop," said Rich Thompson, of the Prediction Center.

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WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Raphael Jesurum
"The clean-up bill is likely to run into millions of dollars"



SEE ALSO:
US tornado losses mount
06 May 03  |  Americas
US clears up after tornadoes
06 May 03  |  Americas
In pictures: Mid-West tornadoes
05 May 03  |  Photo Gallery
Tornadoes: Small but terrifying
11 Nov 02  |  Science/Nature


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