Monster Tornado Strikes Oklahoma City Suburbs

Rescue workers in Moore, Oklahoma, were scrambling Monday evening to pull survivors and victims from rubble while daylight lasted, after an EF5 tornado devastated some 30 square miles of the area. The state medical examiner’s office has confirmed that 24 are dead, and the death toll is expected to rise.

“This is no longer a search and rescue operation. It is now a recovery mission,” said kfor-tv correspondent Lance West after reporting that “up to two dozen” children were dead at Plaza Towers Elementary School.

The tornado swelled to a 2.25-mile width at its largest, and the National Weather Service confirmed winds of well over 200 miles an hour tearing through the area during the height of the storm. Among the buildings destroyed were two schools, a hospital, a theater and at least 500 homes.

kfor-tv reports on Monday evening said some locals were beginning to loot computers and other valuables from severely damaged homes. Oklahoma City Police Capt. Dexter Nelson said open gas lines and downed power lines posed additional risks to the community in the aftermath of the storm.

The same Oklahoma City suburb was hit by a decimating tornado in May of 1999, which spawned the highest winds ever recorded near Earth’s surface. It killed 36 people, injured 295 and displaced 10,000. But Monday’s tornado is estimated to have been three times more destructive than its forerunner. kfor-tv meteorologist Mike Morgan called its destruction “the worst tornado damage in the history of the world.”

In May 2011, an F5 tornado swept through Joplin, Missouri, demolishing the southern part of the city and killing over 150. Hurricane Sandy ravaged much of the eastern United States in October, killing nearly 300. Just last week, tornadoes in North Texas killed six, and left almost 250 homeless.

Why is so much violent weather assailing the United States? Those personally affected by the incomprehensible carnage need answers. You need answers. These answers can be found in our free booklet Why ‘Natural’ Disasters?

UPDATE: On Tuesday morning, the state medical examiner’s office revised the death toll to 24 people, including nine children. Spokeswoman Amy Elliott said she believes some of the victims were counted twice in the early tumult of the storm.