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A massive and devastating tornado hit Moore, Oklahoma today, sweeping through a suburban area of schools, shopping centers, and thousands of homes south of Oklahoma City. The tornado was either a powerful EF-4 or EF-5, with wind speeds of 200mph or more. Reporters tracking the storm describe it as at least a mile wide and on the ground for at least 11 miles; the "debris ball" of the tornado was at points over two miles wide. Rescue efforts are ongoing. Late updates:
  • Several schools were in the direct path of the tornado; at least two, Briarwood and Plaza Towers Elementary, suffered catastrophic damage. Rescue efforts tonight are focused on Plaza Towers, which was completely destroyed. At least seven children are confirmed dead; local stations are reporting that more fatalities are expected in the collapsed building, and may "more than two dozen". A late KFOR report, however, suggests that some of the missing students may have been found safe at another location.
  • The state medical examiner's office has at this point confirmed 51 deaths. The number, however, is expected to rise. AP reports at least 120 patients have been treated in local hospitals, 70 of them children.
  • Moore Medical Center took a direct hit, but all staff and doctors have been accounted for. All students at Briarwood Elementary are now reported to be accounted for, though with some injuries.
  • Southeastern Oklahoma City residents are asked to stop using water, as the water treatment plant was damaged in the tornado and is now offline.
  • The National Guard has been mobilized. President Obama spoke with Gov. Mary Fallin today, pledging "all available assistance."
  • Moore, OK was the site of a horrific tornado in May, 1999, a storm that killed more than forty and damaged thousands of homes. This tornado took a very similar track through much of the town, but in both fatalities and damage, today's events have eclipsed even that storm.
  • Aerial footage of the storm (time lapse.) Another view. Before and after pictures of one neighborhood.
  • The Red Cross has opened a shelter and reunification site at St. Andrews Church, SW 199 & S. May. You can donate to Red Cross relief efforts here.

Leveled homes in Moore, OK, May 20 2013
Destroyed homes in Moore, Oklahoma

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