An enormous tornado spun through the suburbs of Oklahoma City on Monday, flattening homes, business, and at least one school with winds reaching up to 200 miles-per-hour.
It's not yet clear how many people have been killed by the tornado — which at one point was estimated to be as big as a mile wide — though scattered reports of lives lost and bodies being pulled from the rubble have begun to trickle in.
"People are trapped. You are going to see the devastation for days to come," Betsy Randolph, a spokesperson for the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, told CNN Monday afternoon. "Send your prayers heavenward because there are people fighting for their lives."
According to a preliminary rating from the National Weather Service, the tornado was at least a category EF-4, meaning winds reached somewhere between 166 and 200 miles-per-hour.
Early images from the scene showed widespread damage, with some blocks completely levelled.
UPDATE: The Associated Press has released a photograph of a child being pulled from the rubble of Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Okla.:
UPDATE: Watch a time-lapse footage of the tornado as it tore through the Oklahoma City area on Monday afternoon (via Huffington Post):
UPDATE: KFOR Oklahoma City reports that 7 children have been found dead at Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, and 20 to 30 remain missing.
According to NBC, the death toll has risen to 10.
At least 10 fatalities reported from tornadoes in Oklahoma, medical examiner's office tells @nbcnews— Breaking News (@BreakingNews) May 20, 2013
UPDATE: The National Weather Service has released this preliminary image charting the tornado's path.
UPDATE: A Twitter user uploaded the following short video of men searching through the rubble.
UPDATE: KFOR Oklahoma City reports grim news — rescue teams do not believe there are any more survivors at Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Okla.:
Efforts switch to recovery at Plaza Towers elementary in Moore. Crews said don't believe anymore survivors in school. on.kfor.com/wEEeSlP— KFOR (@kfor) May 21, 2013
UPDATE: President Obama has called Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) and vowed to send "all available assistance" to the area.
Pres Obama talks on the phone w Oklahoma Gov Mary Fallin today twitter.com/petesouza/stat…— petesouza (@petesouza) May 21, 2013
The White House released the following statement on that phone call:
This evening the President spoke with Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin to express his concern for those who have been affected by the severe weather beginning last night and continuing today. While information is still coming in, the President made clear that his Administration, through FEMA, stands ready to provide all available assistance as the Governor’s team responds to the storm and that he has directed his team to ensure that they are providing available resources as the response unfolds. FEMA has deployed an Incident Management Assistance Team to the state emergency operations center in Oklahoma City to support state and local officials on the ground and additional personnel and resources stand ready to be dispatched as necessary. The President told Governor Fallin that the people of Oklahoma are in his and the First Lady’s thoughts and prayers and, while his team will continue to keep him updated, he urged her to be in touch directly if there were additional resources the Administration could provide.
UPDATE: The state medial examiner's office has confirmed 37 deaths so far, and said it expects that number will rise.
BREAKING: State medical examiner's office: 37 killed in Oklahoma tornado; death toll expected to rise -RJJ— The Associated Press (@AP) May 21, 2013
UPDATE: CNN has confirmed that seven of the dead are children from Plaza Towers Elementary School, which was completely destroyed by the storm.
UPDATE: A YouTube video shows the storm churning its way across a field.
UPDATE: Watch live as Oklahoma officials discuss the storm:
UPDATE: The state medical examiner's office has upped the death toll to 51. In addition, the AP is reporting that 120 people are being treated at area hospitals.
BREAKING: Hospitals treating more than 120 patients after Oklahoma tornado, including about 70 children -RJJ— The Associated Press (@AP) May 21, 2013
UPDATE: A moving photograph from Oklahoma: A teacher and a student at Briarwood Elementary School:
UPDATE: Another image of a street completely oblitered by the tornado:
UPDATE: More incredible footage of the tornado:
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 7 things the world's happiest people do every day
- Israel has only two choices: Eliminate the Palestinians or make peace
- 9 things you probably didn't know about the moon
- Why are so many parents being arrested?
- 10 things you need to know today: July 22, 2014
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- 29 adorable slang terms for sex (from the last 600 years)
- Why America is duty-bound to help Iraqi Christians
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- The biggest lesson Obama failed to learn from Bush
Subscribe to the Week