At least 20 children are among those killed in a massive tornado that struck today, leaving much of an Oklahoma community in ruins.
As search and rescue efforts continued Monday night by multiple public safety services and other organizations, Amy Elliott of the Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed in an interview with CNN that the death toll is at 51, with 20 of those being children. Elliott said the number of casualties are expected to rise.
At least some of those deaths occurred at the Plaza Towers Elementary School, CNN reported.
During the first press conference provided by local officials, 100 victims were reported to have been transported to various hospitals.
Gov. Mary Fallin said the tornado followed the same path as the May 3, 1999 tornado that killed 42 people.
Fallin said Oklahoma University is opening dorms for displaced residents and area churches are also assisting people.
Rescue and recovery efforts are underway as people are believed to be trapped under the rubble of buildings that were damaged by the possible EF4 tornado.
Public safety officials are advising that residents will not be allowed in the area because of the dangers posed by the debris and unstable infrastructure that was potentially damaged.
Rescuers heard calls for help beneath the rubble at the Plaza Towers Elementary School and Briarwood Elementary School, according to various media reports.
Within just a few hours after the tornado passed through, KFOR-TV in Oklahoma reported there were 24 persons believed to be trapped in the ruins at Plaza Towers.
CNN affiliate KFOR said there were approximately 75 students and staff members in the school hallway when the tornado hit.
When a KFOR reporter on scene at the Plaza Towers school asked a medic about the number of injured, the medic shook his head.
The second school hit was Briarwood Elementary School. The building was destroyed. According to our CBS affiliate KWTV, parents ran to the school trying to make sure their children were OK. Firefighters and police rushed to the scene and started rescue efforts.
We’ll continue to post developments on the devastation at the schools when more details become available.