Confusion Over Oklahoma Tornado Death Toll

A spokeswoman for the Oklahoma City medical examiner said Tuesday morning that the number of deaths reported on Monday night, 91, was "no longer accurate." The spokeswoman confirmed 24 deaths and 145 injuries, including 70 children. Other officials say that as the frantic search for survivors of the mile-wide tornado continues, the death toll will undoubtedly rise. Integris Southwest Medical Center in Oklahoma City had already received dozens of patients by Monday night—with more continuing to arrive into Tuesday morning. “They’ve been coming in minute by minute,” a spokesperson said. Experts have classified the storm, which decimated several neighborhoods and two elementary schools, as a Category Four (out of five) on the Enhanced Fujita scale.


On Monday night, Amy Elliott, the spokeswoman for the Oklahoma City medical examiner, said at least 51 people had died and 40 more bodies were on their way, but on Tuesday, Ms. Elliott said that count “is no longer accurate.”

As of Tuesday morning, the medical examiner had confirmed 24 deaths, she said.

On Monday night, hospitals reported at least 145 people injured, 70 of them children.

Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore was reduced to a pile of twisted metal and toppled walls. Rescue workers were able to pull several children from the rubble, and on Tuesday, as a chilly rain swept through the area, crews were still struggling to cut through fallen beams and clear debris.

“The sun is starting to rise,” said Jayme Shelton, a Moore spokesman. “We are still definitely in search-and-rescue mode.”

Meteorologists warn that the severe weather may not be over. Officials say that 9.5 million people -- from Texas to Arkansas -- remain under the threat of potentially catastrophic tornadoes. In an announcement Tuesday morning, Weather Channel meteorologist Kevin Roth delivered a warning to residents of central/east Texas and central Arkansas, where the storm is heading. “Another day of large and devastating tornadoes is possible,” he said. By Tuesday morning, thunderstorms were already wreaking havoc in Arkansas, with winds up to 60 miles per hour.


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