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1 dead as tornadoes strike in nation’s midsection

A tornado touched down Sunday near Viola, Kan., southwest of Wichita.

Travis Heying/Wichita Eagle/AP

A tornado touched down Sunday near Viola, Kan., southwest of Wichita.

SHAWNEE, Okla. — Tornadoes ravaged portions of central Oklahoma on Sunday, reducing portions of a mobile home park to rubble and killing a 79-year-old man whose body was found out in the open.

The Shawnee tornado was one of several that touched down in the nation’s midsection Sunday. Twisters, hail, and high winds also struck Iowa and Kansas as part of a massive, northeastward-moving storm system that stretched from Texas to Minnesota.

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Across Oklahoma, 21 people were injured, not including those who suffered bumps and bruises and chose not to visit a hospital, said Keli Cain, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management.

Following the twisters, local emergency officials went from home site to home site in an effort to account for everyone.

Cain said that many times in such situations people who are not found immediately are discovered later to have left the area ahead of the storm.

Forecasters had been warning of a general storm outbreak since Wednesday, and for Sunday’s storms some residents had more than a half-hour’s notice that a twister was on the way. Tornado watches and warnings were in effect through late Sunday in much of the nation’s midsection.

Governor Mary Fallin declared an emergency for 16 Oklahoma counties that suffered from severe storms and flooding during the weekend. The declaration lets local governments acquire goods quickly to respond to their residents’ needs and puts the state in line for federal help if it becomes necessary.

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