Science

Oklahoma Tornado: Powerful Twister Leaves City Reeling, Kills At Least 51

By Randell Suba , May 20, 2013 10:56 PM EDT
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A massive tornado, about two miles wide and classified as an EF-4, roared across the suburbs of Oklahoma City, Monday, flattening communities and leaving thousands of people shocked and injured. The death toll, as of reporting, is at least 51 and expected to rise as rescuers and investigators comb through miles and miles of debris.

The twister that seemed to be lifted from nightmares, packed winds that are as strong as 166 to 200 mph and took a path similar to a tornado back in 1999 that was then considered the worst Oklahoma experienced.  Monday's tornado was about three times stronger.

"The whole city looks like a debris field," lamented Glenn Lewis, mayor of the city of Moore that appeared to be the hardest hit area.

The tornado blew away the roof of Plaza Towers Elementary School and ravaged the structure. Horrified parents were asked by authorities to back away because it was too loud to hear any scream for help. It is not yet clear how many teachers and adults were trapped. About two hours after the twister struck, several children were rescued from the rubbles but seven children have been confirmed dead.

According to a report on Washington Post, Governor Mary Fallin of Oklahoma deployed members of the National Guard to help with the search-and-rescue. Additional highway patrol officers were also activated.  The governor also received a call from President Barack Obama, who offered the government's help.

The storm also downed land lines in the affected areas and the cellphone traffic congested the networks. Authorities are said that it might take some time before communication lines can be re-established. The police department of Oklahoma City also pointed to the risks due to the leaking gas lines and downed electrical lines.

The National Weather Service issued more tornado warnings after the massive tornado tore through the suburbs of Oklahoma City. The warnings were specifically for counties in the southeastern portion of Oklahoma and north-central areas of Texas. It also included parts of Missouri, western Illinois, central Iowa, and northwestern Arkansas.

The tornado that occurred Monday followed a day after storms destroyed properties, flipped vehicles, and displaced hundreds of people in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Iowa.

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