Dozens of people dead after massive tornado strikes Oklahoma

tornadoSeveral casualties including children have been reported after a historic tornado swept through the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore, devastating hundreds of buildings including two schools. Meteorologists reported winds up to 200 miles per hour.

A large tornado touched down in Moore, Oklahoma, a suburb of Oklahoma City on Monday, and seems to have caused catastrophic damage to several housing developments, and at least two schools in the area. Local television news deployed a helicopter to track the tornado as it moved through the area, and then began to survey the extensive destruction to the region.

Officials say that 75 children and teachers took shelter at Plaza Towers Elementary in Moore, which was essentially flattened by the passing tornado, and was the site of an ongoing search effort. Several children were pulled out from the debris so far, with officials reporting that teachers had shielded students with their own bodies.

As many as 24 children are thought to have been killed at Plaza Towers as rescue teams continued to sift through the remains of the structure. Meanwhile, students at another local school, Briarwood Elementary, were accounted for and moved to a safe location.

CBS confirmed multiple casualties, including a three month baby and a four-year-old child. There was also a report of the bodies of a man, woman and child found at a 7-Eleven convenience store. The Oklahoma City Chief Medical Examiner’s Office told NBC News that there are at least 10 fatalities as a result of today’s tornadoes.

There was confirmation of at least one structure on fire, possibly caused by a gas leak following the tornado’s path through the community. KOCO reported that cell phone service was down in the Moore region, and aerial footage showed wide swathes of homes wiped out.

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