Massive Tornado Kills At Least 24 In Moore, Hits Elementary Schools
MOORE, Oklahoma - A massive tornado that ripped across Moore Monday afternoon has killed at least 24 people. The twister wiped out neighborhoods, destroyed two schools and left dozens injured.
The state medical examiner confirmed that 24 people have been killed. Oklahoma hospitals say they have treated about 120 people, including 50 kids.
The powerful tornado first touched down in Newcastle and churned toward Interstate 44 and S.W. 149th Street.
President Obama has declared major disaster in Oklahoma after the devastating tornado.
The tornado hit Plaza Towers Elementary School, which is northeast of S.W. 19th and Santa Fe. There are still reports of children and staff still trapped in the debris. Emergency workers are on the scene, searching through the debris. There are also unconfirmed reports children were killed at the school.
Crews have brought cadaver dogs to search for children trapped under the rubbles.
The tornado also hit Briarwood Elementary School, destroying the building. Parents ran to the school, trying to make sure their children were all right. Firefighters and police raced to the scene to help rescue trapped students and staff.
A teacher at Briarwood Elementary told News 9's Karl Torp that students and staff took shelter before the storm struck in hallways and under their decks. There were some minor injuries but all students were accounted for.
At Least 24 People Killed
On Monday, the Medical Examiner's Office reported at least 51 people had been killed, including at least 20 children. Tuesday, that number was revised downward to 24, including nine children.
Spokeswoman Brooke Cayot says nine of 57 patients who are being treated at the Integris Southwest Medical Center were listed in critical condition after Monday afternoon's tornado. Nineteen were in serious condition and 29 were listed in fair or good condition.
She said five of the patients were children who have since been treated and released.
OU Medical Center spokesman Scott Coppenbarger says his hospital and a nearby children's hospital are treating approximately 65 patients, including 45 children. The hospital previously said the number was higher, but later revised its patient count.
He said those patients ranged from minor injuries to critical condition.
Between 300 and 400 students were trapped at Southmoore High School. They could not leave because of the debris littering the roads.
Bob Mills SkyNews 9 flew over the affected areas and found homes and buildings that had been reduced to rubble. Footage also showed vehicles, power poles and debris littering Interstate 35 and side streets.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol shut down Interstate 35 both directions between Interstate 240 and Indian Hills Road for several hours. The highway reopened late Monday night, but traffic was extremely slow.
The tornado also heavily damaged the Warren Theatre and destroyed neighboring businesses. Despite the damage, the theatre has been turned into a triage center.
Moore Medical Center spokeswoman Kelly Wells says the hospital was "pretty much destroyed" after Monday's tornado. She said all of the 30 patients survived, as did all of the staff members at the 46-bed acute care hospital, which is southwest of Oklahoma City.
Wells says 13 patients were transferred to other facilities, though it wasn't clear if they were moved because of injuries sustained in the tornado or because of existing medical conditions.
Wells said all of the patients "amazingly" survived, but the rest of the building didn't.
Oklahoma Corporation Commission reports more than 61,500 outages related to the storm. OG&E reports 33,172 outages, including the following:
Byng - 536
Forest Park - 1,172
Konawa - 1,284
Maud - 240
Moore - 18,432
Norman - 292
Oklahoma City - 734
Sasakwa - 320
Warr Acres - 1,653
Wellston - 103
Yukon - 7,898
Canadian Valley Electric Cooperative reports 1,235 outages:
Pottawatomie County -1206 (Shawnee, McLoud areas)
Lincoln County - 5
Cleveland County - 1
Hughes County - 21
Central Rural Electric reports 1,268 outages:
Lincoln County - 1074
Logan County - 12
Oklahoma County - 6
Municipal Electric outages:
Duncan - 8, 907
Marlow - 2,295
PSO reports 2,844 outages
Atoka, Lehigh - 1,291
McAlester - 1,412
Weleetka - 278
Oklahoma Electric reports approximately 10,000 outages
Northeast Oklahoma Electric reports 1,014 outages:
West Siloam Springs, Concord, Bluejacket, Fairland, Wyandotte, Seneca, Miami
Ozark Electric reports approximately 550 outages in the Tenkiller area.
Lake Region Electric reports 263 outages:
Cherokee, Wagoner Counties
News 9 meteorologists say the twister closely mimicked the path of the deadly tornado on May 3, 1999. That storm had the highest winds ever recorded near the earth's surface.
After hitting Moore, the tornado crossed Interstate 35 and continued its destructive path, but soon dissipated.
Southmoore Junior High School students are now at St. Andrews Church in Moore. Students from other Moore schools can be picked up from First Baptist Church at N.W. 27 and I-35.