By Joe Sterling
(CNN) — At least 24 people — including nine children — were killed when a massive tornado struck an area outside Oklahoma City on Monday afternoon, officials said.
At least seven of those children were killed at Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Oklahoma, police said. Emergency personnel on Tuesday continued to scour the school’s rubble — a scene of twisted I-beams and crumbled cinder blocks.
The tornado was 1.3 miles wide as it moved through Moore, in the southern part of the Oklahoma City metropolitan area, the National Weather Service said. The estimated peak wind ranged from 200 to 210 mph, which would make it an EF5, the most powerful category of tornado possible, according to the agency.
– The mayor of tornado-ravaged Moore, Oklahoma, said he’ll try to get an ordinance passed requiring storm shelters or safe rooms in new housing projects. “I have six councilmen and I need four votes to get it passed,” Mayor Glenn Lewis told CNN on Wednesday.
– The seven children who died inside Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Oklahoma, were in a classroom — not a basement — and they did not die from flooding, Moore Fire Department Chief Gary Bird told CNN on Wednesday. On Tuesday, the state’s Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb told CNN the kids had drowned in a school basement.
– Craig Fugate, the Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator, told CNN the agency is in “good shape” to support the recovery in Oklahoma and in other disaster zones, such as rebuilding after Superstorm Sandy in New Jersey and New York. “We got full allocation last year with the Sandy supplemental funds. We are looking to continue the response here as well as the previous disasters. If we have another hurricane, we may need more money,” he said Wednesday.
– About 2,400 homes were damaged in Moore and Oklahoma City, said Jerry Lojka of the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management. Some 10,000 people were directly impacted by the tornado, he said.
– Insurance claims will likely top $1 billion, Kelly Collins of the Oklahoma Insurance Commission told CNN. The cost would be higher than that from the May 3, 1999, tornado that hit the same area.
– Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano was to travel to Moore on Wednesday to meet with Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and state and local officials and ensure that first responders are receiving the assistance they need in ongoing response and recovery efforts.
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