Homes were flattened, cars were crushed, and schools were described as “completely gone,” as officials warned Monday afternoon’s tornado could reform within the day. The tornado touched down around 3 p.m. local time. Around 4:20 p.m., radar from local station KFOR indicated that the storm was headed toward Mecker, Okla.
A White House official said FEMA is monitoring the storm and urged Oklahomans and others in the storm’s path to “follow the direction of state and local officials.”
On air, an KFOR meteorologist said he believes this is “the worst tornado damage in the history of the world.” It was classified an EF4 — one step below the most powerful rating for a tornado. The National Weather Service says it recorded wind speeds of 200 mph.
This is the second major tornado in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area in as many days. The region has long been afflicted by damaging tornadoes; in 1999, the strongest winds on earth — 302 mph — were recorded near Moore, Oklahoma, as the AP points out.
Watch live footage of the tornado aftermath here.
3. As of 4:55 p.m. local time, there were still no official details on injuries or deaths, though local affiliate KWTV reported that at least five people have died.
BREAKING. KWTV: 3-month old baby, four year old child among the dead in Moore, OK.
More fatalities in Moore, OK: KWTV says 3 dead at a 7-Eleven.
5. Rescue efforts are currently underway. Fifteen children, all 8-10 years old, were reportedly trapped inside a school.
KFOR: Reporter says children are being pulled out of Plaza Town Elementary school in Moore, OK. “Third graders.” Breaks down on phone
ABC World News
Moore City Manger tells @DianeSawyer that schools do not have tornado shelters inside them
7. There’s also been heavy damage to a local hospital.
Moore Medical Center in Moore, OK took a direct hit, @DanaHertneky reports
11. UPDATE — May 20, 2013, 7:08 p.m. ET: Four dead in Moore, Okla., including a mother and baby.
Update: Four dead in Moore near 4th St. and Telephone Rd. Mother and baby included in count. Tried to get in freezer during tornado. (@kfor)
12. Several children pulled out of rubble alive at Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Okla.
13. A woman carries her child through a field near the collapsed Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Okla.
14. UPDATE — May 20, 2013, 7:33 p.m. ET: At least 10 people dead after the tornado.
Confirmed: At least 10 dead following massive tornado, Oklahoma City medical examiner says
15. Widespread damage in Moore, Okla.
Oklahoma Co. Sheriff
Widespread damage in @cityofmoore . #OKCOSO deputies are assisting. #tornado #okwx
16. UPDATE — May 20, 2013, 11:00 p.m. ET: At least 20 children have been found dead in the aftermath of the tornado.
Update: At least 20 of the 51 known deaths in the Oklahoma tornado are children; at least 145 people are hospitalized. (@CNN)