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Massive Tornado Destroys Area Near Oklahoma City; At Least 51 Killed [UPDATED]

An enormous tornado with a debris cloud two miles wide tore through the metropolitan area just south of Oklahoma City on Monday afternoon.

UPDATE 9:28 p.m. EST: At least 51 people were killed in the storm, including seven children from Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, according to KFOR in Oklahoma City. The news station reported that 75 student and staff were inside the school when the storm struck. Officials said Monday night that the search of the rubble remaining of the school had turned to a recovery mission.

UPDATE 8:33 p.m. EST: At least 37 people have been killed in the storm, according to the local medical examiner. The two-mile wide twister, has been given a preliminary classification of an EF-4 tornado (winds of 166 to 200 mph), according to weather officials. Crews are continuing to search an area of 30 square miles for victims of the powerful storm.

UPDATE 7:49 p.m. EST: ABC News reports that at least 10 people have been killed in the storm in Moore, Okla. today.

UPDATE 7:04 p.m. EST: The AP reports that several children were pulled alive from the wreckage at Plaza Towers Elementary School, in Moore.

UPDATE 6:05 p.m. EST: CNN affiliate KFOR is reporting that people are pulling children out from the rubble of an elementary school in Moore. There is no official word yet on the condition of the children.

The town of Moore suffered tremendous damage as the twister gradually moved east, but it never did reach the downtown area of Oklahoma’s capital city. The National Weather Service had issued a tornado emergency warning for the region, a rarity for such a highly populated area. Schools, houses, businesses and many, many more buildings have been utterly devastated.

The tornado may also have touched down in or near the town of Newcastle, which is where many people who had been evacuated due to Sunday’s storms were sheltered.

In total, more than 171,000 people may have been in the path of the tornado, according to CNN.

You can view live coverage of the aftermath here.

This post will be updated as further information comes in.

[NBC, CNN]

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