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May 24th, 2011
08:40 PM ET

Tornado kills two near Oklahoma City, officials say

(CNN) - A deadly string of tornadoes and thunderstorms rampaged Tuesday through central Oklahoma, killing at least two people, injuring many others and destroying homes and vehicles, officials said.

Canadian County Sheriff Randall Edwards told CNN a large tornado that crossed I-40 near El Reno destroyed residences and caused a gas leak at an energy plant west of the state capital.

County Emergency Management Director Jerry Smith told CNN the storm, which eventually moved past Calumet and Edmond, north of Oklahoma City, killed two and caused numerous injuries.

The twister injured motorists on Interstate 40 and U.S. 81, Smith said. Deputies were attending to the injured, and there were reports of property damage in the area.

Another tornado was seen at Chickasha, about 40 miles southwest of Oklahoma City. It later reached Newcastle, before pushing through Moore and Norman, suburbs of Oklahoma City.

The National Weather Service warned residents and I-44 drivers to take precautionary action.

"It came right past the store," said Chickasha AutoZone employee Nathaniel Charlton. "They had a little debris thrown across the parking lot. It was on the ground, but it wasn't bad."

Sirens went off about 20 minutes before the storm pushed through, Charlton told CNN.

State officials received reports of damaged businesses in Chickasha.

"This is an extremely dangerous and life-threatening situation," the National Weather Service said.

More twisters and severe thunderstorms were expected to push through the lower Plains and threaten Joplin, Missouri, which was devastated by a tornado on Sunday.

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