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May 11, 2008 at 9:01 AM   |   Comments

Tornadoes rip though states, killing 19

PICHER, Okla., May 11 (UPI) -- Tornadoes and intense storms ripped through Missouri and Oklahoma, killing at least 19 people and leveling many homes, officials said.

Search and rescue teams Sunday morning reported seven deaths in Ottawa County, Okla., 10 in Racine, Mo., one in Jasper County, Mo., and one near Purdy in Barry County, Mo., CNN reported.

More people may be dead in Missouri, said Susie Stonner, spokeswoman with the State Emergency Management Agency in Jefferson City, Mo.

"It's dark and it was over a wide area. Some of the houses have been completely destroyed. There's a possibility there will be additional people," she said.

A tornado ripped through Picher, Okla., around 6 p.m. Saturday, damaging several buildings, killing at least seven people and wounding about 150 others.

"It looks like a war zone. Some homes have fallen in, some homes have lost roofs, and some are now just slabs," said Michelann Ooten, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management.

About 3,000 people are without electricity, mostly in the Tulsa and McAlester areas of Oklahoma, emergency officials reported.


McCain and Obama look to November

WASHINGTON, May 11 (UPI) -- The Democratic Party has yet to nominate its presidential candidate, but advisers for U.S. Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama say it's time to look to November.

Strategists for both teams say Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., is all but out of the race completely. Advisers for McCain, R-Ariz., and Obama, D-Ill., are working on campaign ads targeting the other and already have teams in key battleground states, The New York Times said Sunday.

McCain developed speeches on global warming and other non-partisan topics in an attempt to woo the much-needed independent voters while Obama will spend this week trying to counter negative stereotypes lingering from the racially-tinged Rev. Jeremiah Wright scandal, The Times said.

Latino voters play an influential role in this year's presidential cycle, the Times said, with Democrats courting the Hispanic vote in GOP strongholds like Nevada and New Mexico while Republicans work for the same in California.

Obama is the clear winner in the race for campaign funds, with about $240 million in his coffers compared to $80 million raised by his presumptive rival McCain.


U.S., Iraqi forces shoot at car, kill 4

BAGHDAD, May 11 (UPI) -- Coalition troops opened fire on a vehicle in northern Iraq, killing four people, including a woman and child, military officials said Sunday.

The driver had failed to stop at a vehicle inspection checkpoint near Mosul, a U.S. military news release said.

The shooting happened amid a military sweep seeking people suspected of associating with al-Qaida terrorists, CNN reported.

U.S. and Iraqi soldiers have recently increased anti-al-Qaida efforts in Mosul, a mostly Sunni City.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has sent additional Iraqi soldiers to the Mosul area with his promise to rid the region of insurgents, the report said.


U.S. envoy arrives in Abkhazia

SUKHUMI, Georgia, May 11 (UPI) -- A U.S. envoy has arrived in the breakaway region of Abkhazia in Georgia in an effort to find a peaceful solution to the impasse there.

Matthew Bryza, U.S. deputy assistant secretary for European and Eurasian affairs, met with Sergei Bagapsh, the president of Abkhazia, and Foreign Minister Sergei Shamba Saturday, RIA Novosti reported.

Abkhazia declared independence from Georgia soon after the collapse of the Soviet Union. But it has not been recognized by any country, although the Georgian government accuses Russia of backing nationalists in Abkhazia and its other breakaway region, South Ossetia, in order to annex them, the Russian news agency noted.

The Russian government recently increased the size of its military contingent in Abkhazia from 2,000 to 3,000. Georgia has called for an international peacekeeping force to replace the Russians.

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