A suburb of Oklahoma City has been leveled by what appears to be a massive tornado that some are calling the most destructive in the history of the world. Yes, seriously. The terrifying storm struck just south of the city on Monday afternoon, ripping apart homes and other buildings, including at least one elementary school.
The National Weather Service issued a tornado emergency, which is apparently unusual even for this part of the Midwest. It indicates that widespread damage and fatalities were likely. The images from the scene are horrifying, and one news anchor said it was the "biggest destructive tornado in the history of the world."
Terrifying doesn't even begin to cut it. Here is what we know so far:
- Houses are destroyed: "The houses are destroyed .... Completely leveled," a helicopter pilot for CNN affiliate KFOR said.
- A school was leveled: An elementary school was apparently among the structures leveled by the twister. CNN reports that children were being pulled from the school.
- Medical centers have been evacuated: Moore Medical Center in Oklahoma was evacuated. It was damaged by the storm. All patients went to centers elsewhere.
- As of 11:30 p.m., 51 people are reported dead.
- Residents are being told to go underground: More are expected to come.
- Downed power lines and gas continue to pose risks: As always with any disaster, the aftermath can also be very dangerous. The extent of the damage isn't yet clear, but the scene is likely very unstable, chaotic, and dangerous.
- Afternoon government sessions were canceled: The Oklahoma House of Representatives canceled its afternoon sessions so Capitol employees and state lawmakers could take shelter in the basement.
- Storm was said to be two miles wide.
The story is developing so much more is likely to come in overnight. But one thing we do know is that this isn't over and that this is likely to go down in history as one of the worst storms in history. "Our worst fears are becoming realized this afternoon," Bill Bunting, with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Storm Prediction Center, told CNN Monday afternoon.
It isn't the kind of thing you can get out of your head. This story will continue to develop and we will follow it, but for now, our hearts are with everyone in Oklahoma City and we are praying that most were able to take shelter.
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