FOX NEWS: A massive tornado at least a half mile-wide with 200 mph winds churned through Oklahoma City’s suburbs Monday afternoon, killing at least 51 people including at least 20 children, flattening entire neighborhoods and destroying an elementary school with a direct blow as children and teachers huddled inside.
Amy Elliott, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office, said early Tuesday 51 people were confirmed dead, at least twenty of them children.She said officials could see as many as 40 more fatalities from the tornado.
The storm laid waste to scores of buildings in Moore, a community of 41,000 people about 10 miles south of Oklahoma City. Block after block lay in ruins. Homes were crushed into piles of broken wood. Cars and trucks were left crumpled on the roadside.
More than 120 people were being treated at hospitals, including about 50 children.
Search and rescue crews were looking for anyone who may be trapped in the rubble. Many land lines to stricken areas were down, and cell phone networks were congested. The storm was so massive that it will take time to establish communications between rescuers and state officials, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin said.
Fallin deployed 80 National Guard members to assist with rescue operations and activated extra highway patrol officers. She also spoke with President BObama, who declared a major disaster and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts.
James Rushing, who lives across the street from the school, heard reports of the approaching twister 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 sent into the restroom.
A man with a megaphone stood near a Catholic church Monday evening and called out the names of surviving children. Parents waited nearby, hoping to hear their sons’ and daughters’ names.
Don Denton hadn’t heard from his two sons since the tornado hit the town, but the man who has endured six back surgeries and walks with a severe limp said he walked about two miles as he searched for them.
As reports of the storm came in, Denton’s 16-year-old texted him, telling him to call.
“I was trying to call him, and I couldn’t get through,” Denton said.
Eventually, Denton said, his sons spotted him in the crowd. They were fine, but upset to hear that their grandparents’ home was destroyed.