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Storm Slams S. Dakota Reservation

June 5, 1999

OGLALA, S.D. (AP) _ A tornado ripped through a small town on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, smashing homes and killing at least one person.

Anywhere from five to 20 people were unaccounted for Saturday, said Maj. Tom Drabland, assistant superintendent of the South Dakota Highway Patrol.

The twister struck Oglala on Friday evening as violent thunderstorms rolled across the region of mostly open prairie in southwestern South Dakota.

``Maybe 20 mobile homes were destroyed and 50 other residences were damaged,″ police spokesman John Mousseau in nearby Pine Ridge said Saturday.

The search for the missing was difficult because, like many reservation towns, Oglala is made up of houses that are spread far apart, Drabland said.

Divers were sent to search a small, debris-filled lake outside town for possible victims.

National Weather Service spotters reported at least three tornadoes near Pine Ridge and hail the size of grapefruit hit ranches in the region.

National Guard members were sent to Oglala, about 80 miles south of Rapid City, and Gov. Bill Janklow flew to the town.

At least three people were taken to a Rapid City hospital with head injuries.

Wind gusted to 70 mph west of Oglala near Oelrichs, and 2 to 3 inches of rain fell in an hour elsewhere in the region.

One year ago, on May 30, a tornado in eastern South Dakota wiped out the town of Spencer and killed six people.

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