Oklahoma tornado kills at least 24 people

Eurasia News

At least 24 fatalities, including nine children, were reported after a record-breaking tornado swept through the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore, destroying hundreds of buildings and two schools. Original reports put the number at 51 deaths.

A large tornado touched down on Monday in Moore, Oklahoma, a suburb of Oklahoma City, causing catastrophic damage to several housing developments and at least two schools in the area. A local television news helicopter tracked the tornado as it moved through the area, and then began to survey the extensive destruction to the region. The tornado has since been rated as an EF5, with winds in upwards of 200mph.

Over 233 were injured by the tornado, including around 70 children. Many of the victims being treated at two local hospitals. Authorities say that 101 people have been rescued from the rubble thus far.

President Barack Obama declared a major disaster area in Oklahoma, ordering federal aid to supplement state and local efforts.

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin said on Tuesday that her state will rebuild and asked for prayers throughout the rescue and recovery process.

Rescuers said their efforts had been hampered; even officers familiar with the area were unable to locate landmarks to navigate, especially after sundown.

Officials reported that 75 children and teachers took shelter at Plaza Towers Elementary in Moore, which had its roof torn off and was flattened by the passing tornado. The school was the site of a rescue effort for several hours after the storm had passed.

The National Weather Service initially classified Monday’s storm as an EF4, the second-strongest type of tornado, with winds of up to 200 mph. That has since been upgraded to EF5. Local reporters who were present for the 1999 storm, however, believe that the damage caused by this tornado is considerably worse.