Massive Tornado Devastates Oklahoma

A massive tornado with winds near 200 miles-per-hour swept through Moore, Oklahoma this afternoon.

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(Go here for all the latest updates on the recovery, including news of a revised death toll)

Original Post: A massive tornado with winds nearing 200 miles-per-hour — which would make it an F-4 — swept through Moore, Oklahoma this afternoon. The storm carved a destruction path perhaps two miles wide and encompassing about 30 square miles. As of very early Tuesday morning, 91 are confirmed dead, according to the state medical examiner's office, with that number expected to rise. 20 of those confirmed dead are children, KOCO reported late Monday. Hospitals across the region are reporting dozens of injuries. A local news anchor called the storm the "biggest destructive tornado in the history of the world," based on what he's seen.

President Obama spoke on the phone with Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin on Monday evening, and has directed the federal government and FEMA to provide her with any help she needs, according to the Associated Press. According to a statement from FEMA, the agency has sent a Incident Management Assistance Team, a FEMA liaison officer, and a damage assessment team to the area, and are offering assistance in coordinating any additional needed federal response. Later Monday, President Obama declared a major disaster in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma City's KFOR-TV is streaming live coverage of the damage.

A lot of the media focus has been on the recovery efforts surrounding Plaza Towers Elementary. Students from grades 4, 5, and 6 were evacuated before the storm, according to a KFOR reporter, but there may have been a third grade class in the building. One reporter saw a young child being walked away from the school after the storm, and the AP reported that several children were rescued from the building later on Monday. But then the news took a turn for the worse: The bodies of seven children have been recovered from the school, and 20 - 30 more children, all dead, are still believed to be inside the rubble. The rescue effort at the school has now ended; officials are now on a recovery mission.

The two images below show Plaza Towers Elementary School from a close and more distant perspective.

Other fatalities, first reported by CBS Radio executive producer Charlie Kaye, included four people at a 7-11 in Moore. A KFOR reporter at the scene described pulling four bodies — a man, two women, and a child — from the rubble of the store. Several of the group apparently sought refuge in a freezer. Kaye also indicated that two children were killed elsewhere.

According to the Associated Press, hospitals are treating about 120 people, including 70 children.

Another hospital was severely damaged by the storm, as seen in the image below, its entrance clogged with a pile of automobiles.

A Memphis TV station has a timelapse video of the tornado.
Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Google has published a map with shelter information, storm reports, and the destruction path of the storm:

This man rode out the storm in a horse stall. He believes that all but one of the horses at the ranch, on which his livelihood depends, are dead.

Meanwhile, @nycjim has found what is arguably one of the most stunning, frightening videos of a tornado, ever:

A photo of one of the storm's survivors, via the county sheriff's office:

Scared, but this little pup survived @cityofmoore #tornado.#okwx #okcoso…

— Oklahoma Co. Sheriff (@OkCountySheriff) May 20, 2013

Earlier images from TV broadcasts and live on the ground show massive destruction from the tornado, which was estimated to be at least a mile wide — and perhaps as much as two miles.

Via Reuters' Anthony DeRosa, men search rubble for a missing child.
Also via DeRosa, this Vine clip of devastation in a nearby neighborhood — including people yelling for help.

A destroyed horse farm in Moore, at which at least 100 animals died.

The Associated Press has video that apparently shows the funnel cloud touching down.

Moore was devastated by an F5 in 1999 and an F4 in 2003. The CBS show Mike and Molly has pulled a tornado-themed episode planned for tonight.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.