A monstrous tornado as much as a mile wide with winds up to 200 mph roared through the Oklahoma City suburbs May 20, flattening entire neighborhoods, setting buildings on fire, and landing a direct blow on an elementary school.
At least 24 people were killed, including at least nine children, and those numbers were expected to climb, officials said May 21. The storm laid waste to scores of buildings in Moore, south of the city. Local news outlets reported several deaths in the community. Block after block of the community lay in ruins, with heaps of debris piled up where homes used to be. Cars and trucks were left crumpled on the roadside.
Authorities expected the death toll to rise as emergency crews moved deeper into the hardest-hit areas. More than 120 people were being treated at hospitals, including about 50 children. Amy Elliott, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office, said May 21 that there could be as many as 40 more fatalities from the tornado.