A monstrous tornado at least a half-mile wide roared through the Oklahoma City suburbs Monday, flattening entire neighborhoods with winds up to 200 mph, setting buildings on fire and landing a direct blow on an elementary school. At least 51 people were reported killed, according to CBS News.
KFOR-TV reports that up to 24 children are believed dead at the Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore and that it has turned into a search and recovery effort. The storm tore off the roof, knocked down walls and turned the playground into a mass of twisted plastic and metal. Several children were pulled alive from the rubble, however. Rescue workers passed the survivors down a human chain to a triage center in the parking lot.
At least seven of the children drowned after being found at the bottom of a pool at Plaza Towers, according to KFOR.
The storm laid waste to scores of buildings in Moore, south of the city. Block after block of the community lay in ruins. Homes were crushed into piles of broken wood. Cars and trucks were left crumpled on the roadside.
The National Weather Service issued an initial finding that the tornado was an EF-4 on the enhanced Fujita scale, the second most-powerful type of twister.
Authorities expected the death toll to rise as emergency crews moved deeper into the hardest-hit areas. Hospitals are treating more than 120 patients, including 70 children.
Rescuers mounted a desperate rescue effort at the school, pulling children from heaps of debris and carrying them to a triage center.
Video via houston.cbslocal.com