In heartbreaking news, Oklahoma's medical examiner has confirmed that at least seven children drowned in the basement of Plaza Towers Elementary earlier today after a tornado ripped through the city of Moore, OK. In keeping with the horrific events, officials say the death toll will most likely rise.
According to Amy Elliot, the Oklahoma medical examiner, the tornado which blew through Moore, has killed at least 51 people. The death toll is likely to rise as they treat approximately 120 people, including about 70 children.
The fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students of Plaza Towers Elementary had been evacuated to a church about a quarter of a mile away, but Kindergarten through third grade had been sheltered at the school. When the tornado hit, some kids were allegedly in the bathrooms and hallways of the school.
NBC affiliate KFOR later reported that at least 24 of the students had been killed. Several children were pulled alive from the Plaza Towers Elementary rubble, and a sixth-grade teacher–who a KFOR reporter described as “nothing short of a hero”–told the station that she shielded several children with her own body, and all survived.
As reported by MSNBC, a Weather Channel reporter says — and the Oklahoma Medical Examiner confirms — that at least seven children drowned in the basement of the school, and several remain unaccounted for.
Another school — Briarwood Elementary in Oklahoma City — was also reportedly damaged by the tornado; thankfully, all of their students are alive and accounted for.
Oklahoma's Gov. Mary Fallin said President Obama has offered help and prayers, and that rescue dogs have been brought in to help with the search, which is expected to continue throughout the night. “Communication is very very hard so we’re asking the public to be patient. We’re doing everything we can,” she said.
For those looking to help (I suspect that's many of us), here's a list of ways to lend a hand. If you're looking to donate money, Charity Navigator is always a good way to suss out the effectiveness/validity of a non-profit.
Photo via AP