OKLAHOMA CITY (WWJ/AP) – A monstrous tornado at least a half-mile wide roared through the Oklahoma City suburbs, flattening entire neighborhoods and destroying an elementary school with a direct blow as children and teachers huddled against winds up to 200 mph Monday.
At least 24 people were killed, including at least 7 children — and those numbers were expected to climb, officials said Tuesday. Officials said incorrect numbers released earlier, that reported as many as 51 dead, included some double counts.
More than 120 people were being treated at hospitals, including about 50 children.
The storm left scores of blocks barren and dark. Rescuers walked through neighborhoods where Monday’s powerful twister flattened home after home and stripped leaves off of trees to see if they could hear any voices calling out from the rubble. A helicopter buzzed above, shining lights on crews below.
A Lincoln Park woman got a first-hand look at the twister and the damage. AT&T employee Cherise Villanueva-Johnson has been in Moore, Oklahoma, since last month for training.
What does an intense tornado sound like?
“I’m not even sure that I can begin to describe it … it’s loud. It’s the sound of fear,” she said.
Villanueva-Johnson said she knew Monday’s storm was going to be trouble after a TV broadcaster said it easily reduced a Wal-Mart Supercenter to a pile of rubble. While she and her co-workers are okay, several of them lost their homes.
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