An enormous tornado at least a mile wide with winds as strong as 200 mph ripped through Oklahoma City suburbs on Monday, killing at least 51 people–including 20 children–and flattening entire neighborhoods.
The twister, which hit south of Oklahoma City, hit two schools: Plaza Towers Elementary School and Briarwood Elementary School. It’s not clear how many were inside the school when the damage occurred, but search efforts are underway. At least 100 are in the hospital. And the medical examiner’s office has been told to expect another 40 bodies; the official death toll won’t be changed until those bodies are processed.
Republican Rep. Tom Cole, who represents city of Moore, told Hardball’s Chris Matthews that the tornado “very, very bad. This is our fourth one of these things in 15 years…and this one is much worse.”
President Obama said he spoke to Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and promised full help of the federal government.
“A time like this, you know how lucky you are to be an American because all the resources and capabilities of the United States government come and help you,” said Cole. “…We’ll get through it, but the numbers aren’t going to get better, they’re only going to get worse. It’s gong to be a very, very difficult time going forward.
Meanwhile, 32,000 in the state are without power and the preliminary rating of the destruction is at least EF4. As night began to fall, search and rescue crews were seen taking people out of the rubble.
Listen to Moore’s entire interview above.