The Oklahoma tornado death toll has risen to at least 51 following touchdown of a tornado that reports are claiming may have been as large as a mile wide moving at least 200 miles per hour, according to CBS News.
The tornado struck multiple towns near Oklahoma City on Monday. Included in the path of destruction were two elementary schools.
According to The New York Times, Briarwood Elementary in Oklahoma City, bordering the town of Moore, was one of those affected. Cars were reportedly thrown through the facade of the building and the roof was completely removed. At neighboring Plaza Towers Elementary School, dozens of students were trapped in rubble, the website stated.
Rescue efforts continue.
The 51 deaths attributed to the Oklahoma tornado thus far was confirmed a few moments ago by Amy Elliott, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma City Medical Examiner.
“Numerous neighborhoods completely leveled … neighborhoods just wiped clean,” said Sergeant Gary Knight of the Oklahoma City Police Department.
“Please send us your prayers,” added a representative from the Moore mayor’s office.
At close to 6 pm Central Standard Time, the Integris Southwest Medical Center in Oklahoma City had confirmed 33 patients. Ten were listed as critical condition with an additional 10 in serious and 12 in fair or good.
The 51 number is an increase of 14 in the last two and a half hours.
“Our hearts are broken for parents who are wondering about the state of their children,” said Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin at an emergency press conference as rescuers worked to pull survivors from the rubble.
The tornado struck at around 3 p.m.CBS News was there shortly afterward. In the video below, you’ll see some of the destruction. Up to five blocks were said to be “leveled” in addition to the schools.
On a related note, an episode of Mike & Molly that centered on a tornado was pulled from broadcast this evening in honor of the victims, and President Obama has called Governor Fallin to voice his support and to offer the services of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for anything the area needs, White House officials said.
In 1999, an Oklahoma tornado struck Moore, killing 36 people.
[Image via Twitter]