Oklahoma Tornado Aftermath
At least 24 people were killed Monday after a tornado at least a half-mile wide hit Oklahoma on Monday, The New York Times reports. While Amy Elliott, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma City Medical Examiner's Office, said Monday that 51 had died with 40 more bodies coming, on Tuesday she said that count was "no longer accurate."
The powerful twister hit Moore, Okla. — a town outside of Oklahoma City. It destroyed a hospital and at least two schools. Seventy-five students and staff members were huddled together in Plaza Towers Elementary School, which lay directly in the path of the tornado, when the storm actually hit.
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Rescue workers were still searching for survivors in the early hours of Tuesday. A temporary flight restriction was put in effect over the school so that aircraft would stay away, allowing rescue workers and emergency officials to hear cries for help. "We're doing everything we can ... to find anyone who might be injured or might be lost," Gov. Mary Fallin said in a news conference on Monday.
Hospitals have reported at least 145 people injured, 70 of those children. Brooke Cayot, a spokeswoman for Integris Southwest Medical Center, said 58 patients had been admitted by 9 p.m. Monday. Another 85 were being treated at Oklahoma University Medical Center. "They've been coming in minute by minute," Cayot said. Another nearby medical center, Moore Medical Center, was evacuated after it sustained damage from the tornado. Patients were evacuated to Normal Regional Hospital and Healthpex Hospital.
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Additionally, Interstate 35 in Moore was closed due to debris from the storm. Such damage to roads and heavy traffic made it difficult for emergency responders to get to the affected area. Late Monday, President Barack Obama declared a federal disaster in the area and will address the nation regarding the tornadoes on Tuesday morning.
Monday's tornado came after tornadoes and powerful storms hit Oklahoma and the Midwest Sunday and earlier on Monday, killing two people. As many as 28 tornadoes were reported in Oklahoma, Kansas, Illinois and Iowa, according to the National Weather Service. Keli Pirtle, a spokeswoman for the National Weather Service in Norman, Okla., says that preliminary data suggests it was a Category 4 tornado, though an official assessment has not yet been made.
The risk of tornadoes throughout the region remains high throughout Tuesday.