Oklahoma tornado: Eyewitness accounts

The tornado sweeps through Oklahoma City. (@benikereo, Instagram)

The tornado sweeps through Oklahoma City. (@benikereo, Instagram)

While weather forecasters and news channels reported on the magnitude of the tornado that hit Oklahoma city, local residents used their smartphones to capture footage of the twister and shared it on social media networks like Instagram, YouTube and Twitter. Many inhabitants heeded the city's warning of strong winds and sought shelter, but some remained in the shadow of the tornado and shared terrifying footage of the dark, three-kilometre wide cone of wind that swept through heavily populated suburbs.

According to reports the tornado has already claimed 91 lives. Emergency crews and residents continued to comb through the rubble of debris the tornado has left behind and it is expected that the death toll will rise. 

We take a look at a collection of the top nine eyewitness videos and photographs of the Oklahoma tornado, from the people of Oklahoma.

1.
This YouTube video captured the twister, which was approaching at such a high speed that the video had to be cut short to escape it.
 

2. Twitter user @DanGordon shared his friend's photograph, which was shot from his friend's car's side mirror while leaving town.

 

3. An elderly woman is reunited with her dog after it finds its way out of the debris of the resident's collapsed home.

4. Instagram user @benikereo shared this image of the tornado tearing through the city and asked fellow Instagrammers to #prayforOklahoma.

 

5.  David Massey used the video sharing app Vine to capture the devastation that surrounded him after the tornado struck.

6. The executive editor of Reuters Digital, Jim Roberts, shared inspiring pictures of the surviving kids who emerged from the ruins of the Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, a community of 55 000 just south of Oklahoma's state capital.  

7. This ominous picture was snapped up by Instagram user @DarcyJaneen from Lawton, a town just outside  Oklahoma City.

 

8. In this YouTube clip shared by a group called Basehunters – who specialise in chasing storms and capturing footage – you can hear the roar of the twister. In the close-ups, you can see torn bits of houses and other materials flying around as the tornado rips through them.

9. This Twitter user shares an image of rescue workers continuing their search through one of the town's collapsed elementary schools in the hope of finding more survivors.

Several videos like these, portraying the magnitude of the disaster, have been shared so extensively on social networks that they have reached viral status – helping to bring awareness and aid to this tornado-torn town. 

And while the path to rebuild has just begun, people from across the world continue to share their support and condolences by tweeting messages that carry the tag #prayforOklahoma.

Haji Mohamed Dawjee

Haji Mohamed Dawjee

Haji Mohamed Dawjee became Africa’s first social media editor in a newsroom at the Mail & Guardian, where she went on to work as deputy digital editor and a disruptor of the peace through a weekly column. A stint as the program manager for Impact Africa – a grant-disbursing fund for African digital journalists – followed. She now pursues her own writing full time by enraging readers of EWN and Women 24 with weekly and bi-monthly columns respectively. She also contributes to the Sunday Times and a range of other publications. Mohamed Dawjee's inaugural book of essays: Sorry, not sorry: Experiences of a brown woman in a white South Africa, is due for release by Penguin Random House in April 2018.Follow her on Twitter: @sage_of_absurd Read more from Haji Mohamed Dawjee

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