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`It Was Like the Wizard of Oz' - Tornado Skips...

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MIAMI (AP) — From the roof of the downtownpolice station,Officer Leo Carilo watched the tornado lurch closer and closer.

``I saw palm trees and trees with root systems and everything acouple of hundred feet up,'' Carilo said. ``It was something likein the movie `Twister,' like in the Wizard of Oz, everything flyinglike that.''

The tornado swept past the station and Miami's high-risecondominiums Monday afternoon, smashing windows and damaging roofsand cars in a two-mile path as people scrambled for cover. No onewas killed and only five injured, including a woman who suffered aheart attack.

Several television stations captured spectacular footage of thefunnel cloud as it blew through downtown with 100 mph winds, thenpast condo towers and across causeways on Biscayne Bay.

In Little Havana, the roof of a three-story building collapsed.The tornado also touched down on the MacArthur Causeway, whichleads to South Beach, and brought traffic to a halt.

``We thought it was going to hit us,'' said Joseph McCrea, atoll collector at the Venetian Causeway, which leads to MiamiBeach.

McCrea watched the storm rip trees out of the ground and setoffsmall explosions as it tore down power lines. An estimated 20,000people lost power, but it was restored by evening. At least 35 hadto seek overnight shelter.

``I've lived here 32 years and this is the first time I've everseen anything like this,'' said police spokesman Delrish Moss, whowatched the twister blow by the police station. ``I was fascinated.I found myself standing there in total awe of the magnificent powerthat this packs.''

An American Airlines jet flying into Miami InternationalAirporthit severe turbulence because of the tornado, injuring twopassengers and five flight attendants. The A300 from Boston had 156passengers and nine crew members aboard. It landed safely.

``It bounced so hard I thought we hit another plane orsomething,'' said Claude Remy, whose wife, Noemie, injured her neckand shoulder.

Anna Varela, who lives on an island between Miami and MiamiBeach, saw the twister on TV. Then she looked out a window and sawthe tornado bearing down on her house, which escaped virtuallyunscathed.

``They showed it on TV and then it came through like awhirlpool,'' she said.

By TOM BAYLES,Associated Press WriterCopyright ©1997 AssociatedPress. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast,rewritten, or distributed.

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