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Devastating Tornado Causes Destruction in Oklahoma, Official Death Toll Unknown

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Our prayers go out to those affected by the devastating tornado that struck Oklahoma. According to reports, a massive, howling tornado pulverized a vast swath of the Oklahoma City suburbs Monday, chewing up homes and businesses, and severely damaging a hospital and two elementary schools. The storm carved a trail through the area as much as two miles wide and 22 miles long, officials said.

Firefighters, police, National Guard members and volunteers worked by flashlight overnight and into Tuesday morning, crawling across piles of debris in a determined search for survivors and victims. Air National Guard members brought in thermal imaging equipment to aid in the work.

More than 100 people had been pulled from the rubble alive since Monday afternoon, the state Highway Patrol said.

Early Tuesday, authorities asked news crews to move satellite trucks from the scene because the idling engines were making it difficult for rescuers to listen for the faint sounds of survivors beneath the rubble.

“We’re a tough state. This is a tough community,” Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb told CNN on Tuesday. “There is hope. We always have hope. We always have faith.”

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The death toll is unclear. The state medical examiner’s office said it received reports of 51 deaths in the early stages of search and recovery efforts Monday. But it said it had received only 24 bodies at its Oklahoma City office.

Earlier, the medical examiner’s office said as many as 40 additional people, roughly half of them children, would be added to the death toll. More bodies could be hidden under the vast debris field, authorities warned.

Authorities also had to shut down a stretch of Interstate 35 after the storm showered it with debris from nearby homes it had destroyed. The highway was opened again Tuesday morning, the Highway Patrol said.



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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Dean

    May 21, 2013 at 1:27 PM

    The entire state of Oklahoma are in my thoughts and prayers!

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