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At least 51 dead, 120 injured in Oklahoma tornado

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Photographs by The Associated Press

This frame grab provided by KWTV shows a tornato in Oklahoma City Monday, April 20, 2013. Television footage shows flattened buildings and fires after a mile-wide tornado moved through the Oklahoma City area.

9 p.m. UPDATE

MOORE, Okla. — At least 51 people have been reported killed after a half-mile-wide EF-4 tornado ripped through the Oklahoma suburbs Monday.

Officials said the death toll is expected to rise as search and rescue efforts continue through the night.

More than 120 people were being treated at hospitals, including about 70 children.

7:33 p.m. UPDATE

MOORE, Okla. — 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 37 people were reported killed.

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. At least 60 people were reported hurt, including more than a dozen children.

Rescuers mounted a desperate rescue effort at the school, pulling children from heaps of debris and carrying them to a triage center.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin deployed 80 National Guard members to assist with search-and-rescue operations and activated extra highway patrol officers.

Fallin also spoke with President Barack Obama, who offered the nation's help and gave Fallin a direct line to his office.

Many land lines to stricken areas were down and cellphone traffic was congested. The storm was so massive that it will take time to establish communications between rescuers and state officials, the governor said.

In video of the storm, the dark funnel cloud could be seen marching slowly across the green landscape. As it churned through the community, the twister scattered shards of wood, pieces of insulation, awnings, shingles and glass all over the streets.

Volunteers and first responders raced to search the debris for survivors.

At Plaza Towers Elementary School, 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. Rescue workers passed the survivors down a human chain to the triage center in the parking lot.

James Rushing, who lives across the street from the school, heard reports of the approaching tornado and ran to the school, where his 5-year-old foster son, Aiden, attends classes. Rushing believed he would be safer there.

"About two minutes after I got there, the school started coming apart," he said.

The students were placed in the restroom.

Oklahoma City Police Capt. Dexter Nelson said downed power lines and open gas lines posed a risk in the aftermath of the system.

6:34 p.m. UPDATE

OKLAHOMA CITY — Officials say the Draper Water Treatment Plant in Oklahoma City was knocked off line during the tornado.

The city is asking residents and businesses in southeast Oklahoma City to stop using water.

Crews are working to restore electricity to the plant with generators, and OG&E is on the scene and trying to reconnect power lines.

The city is asking that people make sure their sprinkler systems are turned off and that they postpone washing dishes and clothes and not operate appliances that use water.

6:20 UPDATE

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Salvation Army says it is activating disaster response teams and mobile feeding units to help residents and rescuers in Moore.

The organization said Monday that its Arkansas-Oklahoma division is supplying the teams.

The Red Cross is also responding. That organization is working to link loved ones in Moore who are OK connect through a website called Safe and Well. The site is: www.safeandwell.org

People can enter their information on the site or use a search feature to see if their loved ones are listed.

The tornado ripped down land phone lines in Moore and cell lines are severely congested.

6:00 p.m. UPDATE

MOORE, Okla. — Several children have been pulled out of the rubble alive at a school in an Oklahoma City suburb.

An Associated Press photographer saw several children being pulled out of what was left of the Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Okla., on Monday after a massive tornado hit the region.

Rescue workers lifted children from the rubble before they were passed down a human chain and taken to a triage center set up in the school's parking lot.

The school is southwest of Oklahoma City. Its roof appears mangled and the walls had fallen in or had collapsed.

The National Weather Service said the tornado's preliminary classification was an EF-4, with winds up to 200 mph.

5:40 p.m. UPDATE

WASHINGTON — Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is assuring Oklahoma's governor that the Obama administration will provide all possible help to the state after a massive tornado tore through the Oklahoma City suburbs.

White House officials said Monday that Napolitano called Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin to tell her that President Barack Obama had directed federal emergency management officials and his administration to ensure no needs go unmet.

The tornado flattened entire neighborhoods in the southern suburb of Moore, leaving buildings on fire and landing a direct blow to an elementary school.

5:19 p.m. UPDATE

The National Weather Service says the tornado that hit Moore, Okla., had wind speeds up to 200 mph.

The weather service's preliminary classification of Monday afternoon's tornado was an EF-4 on the enhanced Fujita scale.

Authorities say emergency crews are working to rescue people trapped in Moore, which is southwest of Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma City Police Capt. Dexter Nelson said emergency crews are trying to reach the affected areas. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

The suburb of Moore was hit hard by a tornado in 1999. The storm had the highest winds ever recorded near the earth's surface.

Original post

MOORE, Okla. — A monstrous tornado as much as a mile wide roared through the Oklahoma City suburbs Monday, flattening entire neighborhoods, setting buildings on fire and landing a direct blow on an elementary school.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or deaths, but the storm laid waste to scores of buildings in Moore, south of the city. Block after block of the community lay in ruins, with heaps of debris piled up where homes used to be. Cars and trucks were left crumpled on the roadside.

Volunteers and first responders were searching through debris looking for survivors. Television footage showed first-responders picking through rubble and twisted metal.

Oklahoma City Police Capt. Dexter Nelson said downed power lines and open gas lines posed a risk in the aftermath of the system.

The storm seemed to blow neighborhoods apart instantly, scattering shards of wood and pieces of insulation across the scarred landscape.

The same suburb was hit hard by a tornado in 1999. That storm had the highest winds ever recorded near the earth's surface.

Raw: Tornado on the ground in Oklahoma

One day after tornadoes killed two people in Oklahoma, a new tornado was spotted on the ground in Newcastle. Newcastle is located about 12 miles southwest of Moore, Okla. (By The Associated Press)
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A map indicating Moore, Okla., where a tornado left untold damage Monday afternoon. Several large buildings were affected, in... + Enlarge

Comments

DONNY ELMSTAD djigoo says...

Prayers.

Posted 20 May 2013, 6:27 p.m. Suggest removal

GUY RANSOM Ran2133 says...

Having been through a tornado, I can surely empathize with the folks in Oklahoma as well as other areas where storms hit. May God Bless the families of those killed and injured as well as all of those affected by this outbreak.

Posted 20 May 2013, 9:04 p.m. Suggest removal

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