Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

Tornado rescue search 'almost over'

A woman carries her child through a field near the collapsed Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Oklahoma (AP, Sue Ogrocki)
A fire burns in the Tower Plaza Addition in Moore, Oklahoma following a tornado (AP/Sue Ogrocki)
A tornado passes across south Oklahoma City (AP/The Oklahoman, Paul Hellstern)

The search for survivors and the dead in the Oklahoma City suburb raked by a massive tornado is almost complete, a fire chief says.

Gary Bird said he is "98% sure" there are no more survivors or bodies to recover under the rubble in Moore.

Mr Bird says every damaged home has been searched at least once, and that his goal is to conduct three searches of each location just to be sure.

He is hopeful the work could be completed by nightfall, though heavy rains have slowed efforts and soaked debris piles.

Mr Bird says no additional survivors or bodies have been found since on Monday night.

The tornado flattened homes and demolished a primary school. At least 24 people were killed, including at least nine children.

The half-mile-wide tornado hit the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore in the US Midwest with winds of 200mph. It smashed its way across the community of 41,000 for 45 minutes. Homes were crushed into piles of broken wood. Cars and trucks were left crumpled on the roadside.

More than 120 people were being treated at hospitals, including about 50 children.

President Barack Obama declared a major disaster and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts. State governor Mary Fallin said the search for survivors went on, adding "hearts are broken" for parents looking for their children.

At Plaza Towers Elementary School, the storm tore off the roof, knocked down walls and turned the playground into a mass of twisted plastic and metal. Children from the school were among the dead, but several were pulled alive from the rubble.

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