Massive tornadoes hit midwestern US state of Oklahoma on Monday killing at least 24 people including nine elementary school children.
The largest of them, at least a mile wide (1.6 km), whipped up winds of up to 200 miles an hour for 40 minutes, flattening everything that came in its way.The warning, issued 16 minutes before, came too late for Plaza Towers elementary school of Moore, a town outside Oklahoma City, which bore the brunt of the storms.
The nine children who died were all from this school.
Local media outlets had earlier reported 91 deaths. But Oklahoma City medical examiner’s office revised the toll Tuesday morning to 24. The earlier count was attributed to double-counting.
“Our prayers are with the people of Oklahoma today,” President Barack Obama said in a Tuesday news conference. “The people of Moore should know that their country will remain on the ground there for them, and be beside them as long as it takes.”
The Department of Emergency Management said at least three tornadoes hit Oklahoma on Monday — Oklahoma City, Moore and Duncan, farther southwest. “Everything is just devastated,” Darren Hacker of Moore told The Wall Street Journal. The National Weather Service ranked the twister EF4 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale of 5, meaning the second most powerful category of tornado.