MOORE, Oklahoma – A monstrous tornado as much as a mile (1.6 kilometers) wide roared through the Oklahoma City suburbs, killing at least 51, flattening entire neighborhoods with winds up to 200 mph (320 kilometers) and landing a direct blow on at least one school.
An Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office spokeswoman said the death toll was expected to rise. Officials at two hospitals said they’re treating nearly 60 patients, including more than a dozen children. At least 10 people were in critical condition.
The storm of rare ferocity – less than 1 percent of all tornadoes reach such wind speed – ripped through scores of buildings in Moore, south of the city. Block after block of the community lay in ruins. Cars and trucks were left crumpled.
The National Weather Service issued an initial finding that the tornado was an EF-4 on the enhanced Fujita scale, the second most powerful type of twister.
The same suburb was hit hard by a tornado in 1999. That storm had the distinction of producing the highest winds ever recorded near the Earth’s surface – 302 mph (486 kph).
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