30 CHILDREN FEARED DEAD AS MASSIVE TORNADO HITS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL – A massive rescue effort is underway in the aftermath of a Tornado devastates Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Oklahoma City late yesterday.
Search and Rescue teams reported hearing kids cries of help from beneath the rubble but just after 6:30pm those cries stopped and it is now feared that this is now a recovery mission for those children who have lost their battle for life under the elementary school.
Reports from eye-witnesses told of a tornado that was at least half a mile wide and has flattened an area stretching more than 30 square miles.
Meteorologist classified the tornado as an F4 with winds of up to 200mph; F5 is the highest rating.
Once the tornado passed, desperate parents raced to the school only to find it completely flattened as it took a direct hit from the tornado. Parent were then taken to a nearby church where they were told to stay and await news as rescuers battled to find survivors under the rubble.
KWTV reported that at least 51 people were killed in the area of Moore, Oklahoma, including confirmed reports by medical teams that a 3 month old baby and a four year old child have been killed.
The local hospital has seen over 150 residents seek treatment over the last few hours and hospital staff report that this number continues to rise.
The National Guard has been called to the scene along with rescue dogs in a bid to locate survivors under the Elementary School.
A number of aerial photographs have been taken of the area with shows complete devastation of the elementary school and surrounding homes and business, all of which have been completely destroyed.
Young 3rd Grade children were being pulled from the rubble alive as news reporters hit the scene. Rescue workers formed a human chain and passed the surviving kids down the line to a waiting makeshift medical facility in the schools parking area.
Teachers reported that many of the children took shelter in the hallways of the school when the tornado it; one child reported that his teacher lay across six children in order to protect them from falling debris; it is not clear at this stage whether that teacher survived.
Other children are also reporting similar heroics by their teachers as they battled to save their students regardless to their own safety.
The White House has confirmed that President Obama has offered any assistance that the Mayor or Governor feel is necessary. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin reported that there were three Search and Rescue Teams with dogs from out of the state helping in the recovery process.
A special website, ‘Safeandwell.com’, has been set up so that family and friends can keep track of those who may be feared lost.
Another elementary school Blairwood Elementary was also entirely leveled and an email was sent to all parents with children at the school at approximately 2:45pm to say the school was in lockdown and that the children would be held on campus until the storm passed. Thankfully at 5pm the authorities notified parents and the press that all the children were safe and accounted for.
Many of the children who have survived reported how they hid in bathrooms with their teachers protecting them as the tornado rolled over the building.
Hundreds of people’s homes have been reduced to piles of rubbish and at least 8,000 people last night was without power. Local authorities are assisting as many people as possible and have asked people to stay in groups for safety.
Oklahoma, also known as Tornado Alley, is expecting more tornados to touch down over the coming hours and experts are warning residents of Meeker to prepare.
Professional Storm Chaser, Spencer Basoco told CNN that people must remain vigilant as there is a lot of debris still in the air that can cause serious injury or death. Local authorities have also pleaded with Moore residents to get off the streets and find suitable shelter.
This tornado is yet another that has caused havoc and taken lives over the last few weeks throughout Kansas and Oklahoma.
The severe thunderstorms that produce tornadoes form where cold dry air meets warm moist tropical air.
The wind coming into the storm starts to swirl and forms a funnel. The air in the funnel spins faster and faster and creates a very low pressure area which sucks more air – and objects on the ground into it.
Most tornadoes spin cyclonically (counter-clockwise) in the Northern hemisphere.
The twisters are most common in a section of the U.S. called Tornado Alley, with most forming in the months of April and May.
The vortex of winds varies in size and shape, and can be hundreds of meters wide.
There are, on average, 1,300 tornadoes each year in the United States, which have caused an average of 65 deaths annually in recent years.
Conditions on the ground do not generally affect the power of a tornado, including terrain and structures like buildings.
Did you witness the scenes in Moore? Have your say… leave your comments below.