Oklahoma tornadoes: Death toll rises to five, dozens hurt

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The US city hit by a deadly tornado less than two weeks ago was slammed again, and the Oklahoma medical examiner's office said five people were killed.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol said a mother and baby were among the dead, and emergency officials said reports of injuries were "widespread."

Tornadoes hit Oklahoma City on Friday evening, smashing vehicles along a major highway during rush hour. Highway Patrol Trooper Betsy Randolph said troopers found a woman and a baby near a vehicle along Interstate 40 west of the city.

Hospitals in the area said dozens of people were hurt, five critically.

But meteorologists said the fury of Friday's storm didn't match that of the one that struck Moore, the suburb where a top-of-the-scale tornado killed 24 on May 20.

"Not even close," meteorologist Rick Smith at the National Weather Service said in a text message relayed by the Storm Prediction Centre.

Violent weather also moved through the St Louis area, ripping the roof off a suburban casino.

Passengers at Oklahoma City's Will Rogers World Airport were directed into underground tunnels, and inbound and outbound flights were cancelled.

Television cameras showed debris falling from the sky.

The region is in part of the Midwest US known as Tornado Alley. The US averages more than 1,200 tornadoes a year and most are relatively small.

Floodwaters up to 4 feet (1.2m) deep hampered Oklahoma City rescue attempts.

"We're scrambling around," said Ms Lara O'Leary, a spokeswoman for the local ambulance agency. "There is very low visibility with the heavy rain ... so we're having trouble getting around.

"The damage is very, very widespread."