At least 24 people—including nine children—were killed, hundreds more were injured and numerous homes, schools and businesses were destroyed after a massive tornado barreled through the town of Moore, Okla., on Monday. The National Weather Service has classified it as a top-of-the-scale EF-5 twister.
The weather service says the tornado was about 17 miles long and 1.3 miles wide, packing maximum wind speeds of more than 200 miles per hour.
It was initially reported that 51 people had died in the storm, but those estimates were revised Tuesday. Rescuers are still combing through the rubble.
Amy Elliot, spokeswoman for the state medical examiner’s office, blamed the confusion on chaos after the storm cut a path more than a mile wide through this Oklahoma City suburb of 41,000 people. She said nine of the dead were children, and that the death toll could climb.
“We will rebuild, and we will regain our strength,” Gov. Mary Fallin said at an afternoon press conference.
Fallin said at least 237 people were injured and that officials are working to develop “firm” casualty numbers. Fallin also praised the Federal Emergency Management Agency and its administrator, Craig Fugate—and thanked first responders for a “job well done.”
The National Weather Service spokeswoman Keli Pirtle said Tuesday the agency upgraded the tornado from an EF-4 on the enhanced Fujita scale to an EF-5 based on what a damage assessment team saw on the ground. The weather service uses the word “incredible” to describe the power of EF-5 storms.