String of Deadly Tornadoes Hits Oklahoma Hardest
Kansas, Iowa, Missouri also suffer
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted May 20, 2013 1:51 AM CDT
Seven-year-old Katrina Ash, left, watches with her mother as heavy equipment is brought into their tornado-damaged neighborhood near Dale, Oklahoma.   (AP Photo Sue Ogrocki)

(Newser) – A string of tornadoes spawned by a massive storm system tore through four states yesterday, killing at least one person and destroying scores of homes in Oklahoma, the hardest-hit state. Up to 26 tornadoes were reported in Oklahoma, Kansas, Illinois, and Iowa, including a half-mile wide funnel cloud that witnesses said "ripped up everything in sight" after touching down near Wellston, Okla., CNN reports.

The death in Oklahoma was a 79-year-old man whose body was found out in the open after a tornado devastated a trailer park near Shawnee, the AP reports. The governor declared a state of emergency as search and rescue operations continued in 16 hard-hit counties and victims surveyed the damage. "We had a house, a travel trailer, a Jeep, a Volkswagen car, and dock on our pond. They all blew away," a central Oklahoma woman whose home was destroyed tells the Oklahoman. But "nobody got hurt and the freezer has still got ice cream."

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