OKLAHOMA CITY The Oklahoma state medical examiner's office says 20 children are among the dead in the tornado that ripped through Oklahoma City suburbs. The twister killed at least 51 people, and officials fear the death toll will rise. Medical examiner spokeswoman Amy Elliott confirmed the children's deaths Monday night. The tornado made a direct hit on an elementary school in Moore, Okla., and authorities were seen pulling children alive from the rubble. Oklahoma City police say the search and rescue operation at the school is now a recovery effort. Authorities are still searching for victims -- and survivors -- throughout the community.The monstrous tornado was at least a half-mile wide. It flattened entire neighborhoods and destroyed the elementary school as children and teachers huddled against winds of up to 200 mph. The storm laid waste to scores of buildings in Moore, a community of 41,000 people about 10 miles south of the city. Block after block lay in ruins. Homes were crushed into piles of broken wood. Cars and trucks were left crumpled on the roadside.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. 236 people were being treated at hospitals, including dozens of children. Search-and-rescue efforts were to continue throughout the night. Tiffany Thronesberry said she heard from her mother, Barbara Jarrell, shortly after the tornado. "I got a phone call from her screaming, 'Help! Help! I can't breathe. My house is on top of me!"' Thronesberry said.
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