The state medical examiner’s office said that at least 37 had been killed. The death toll is expected to rise. Hospitals report that at least 60 people were reported hurt, including more than a dozen children.
The National Weather Service issued an initial finding that the tornado was an EF-4 on the enhanced Fujita scale, the second most-powerful type of twister.
The scene in Moore has been described simply as “total devastation.”
KFOR-TV’s news helicopter followed along as the monstrous tornado cut a large swath leading up to and through Moore, Okla. Monday. The tornado was estimated to be on the ground for about an hour, cutting a swath 20 miles long and about 1 mile wide. The debris ball is estimated to be at least two miles wide.
Immediately after the tornado passed, KFOR’s helicopter returned to an area west of Interstate 35 in Moore, where two elementary schools, a neighborhood and a horse farm all took a direct hit by the twister.
The tornado destroyed both Briarwood and Plaza Towers elementary schools in Moore, as well as flattening several blocks of homes in between.
At Plaza Towers Elementary, rescuers said at least 75 children and staff members were believed to be inside the school, taking shelter in the hallway, when the tornado struck. The children are believed to be third-graders.
KFOR’s Lance West reported seeing at least one adult and one child emerge from the debris at Plaza Towers.
West reported at about 6:30 p.m. that the search at Plaza Towers was a recovery effort and was no longer a search and rescue. As many as two dozen children could be in the rubble. Seven bodies were recovered from a pool of water at the elementary school.
West reports that the fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade classes were removed from the school and were held at a church before the tornado hit.
There are multiple reports of teachers laying on children and using their body to protect them from flying debris.
To the west of both schools, dozens of stalls Orr Family Farm were flattened and as many as 100 horses are believed to have been killed in the storm, KFOR reports.
To see live coverage from KFOR, click here or watch their feed below.
Officials at two Oklahoma City-area hospitals said they are treating nearly 60 patients, including more than a dozen children.
Integris Southwest Medical Center spokeswoman Brooke Cayot said 10 of 37 patients being treated at that facility Monday are listed in critical condition. Twelve are in serious and 15 others are listed in fair or good condition.
Five of the patients are children, including two who came from the Plaza Towers Elementary School. Cayot could not confirm the children’s conditions.
Spokesman Scott Coppenbarger said another 20 patients of various ages are being treated at OU Medical Center. Eight are children, he said.