Devastated families are frantically searching for young children trapped under the rubble of an elementary school that was flattened after a monster two-mile wide tornado roared through Moore in Oklahoma, leaving dozens dead.
Initial reports said as many as 91 people across the suburb south of Oklahoma City could have been killed in the tragedy, but officials confirmed on Tuesday morning there have been 24 deaths, including nine children. They explained that some had been counted twice amid the chaos.
Officials now fear for as many as 40 others and expect the death count to rise. At least 240 people are injured, 60 of these children, and searches continue for people who could be trapped under the rubble of homes and buildings that have been reduced to rubble.
Nine-year-old Janae Hornsby is among the children missing after Plaza Towers Elementary School was destroyed on Monday afternoon after the building took a direct hit during the 45 minutes of terror.
Janae’s heartbroken father, an Iraq veteran, and grandmother released images of the young girl ‘who always has a smile on her face’ and have put out a desperate plea for information after they failed to reach Plaza Towers before the 200mph winds rattled through.
She is among as many as 24 children aged between five and eight missing from the school, where seven youngsters were found drowned on Monday night after water pipes burst beneath the rubble. Other parents have spread pictures of their missing loved ones on Facebook pages.
President Barack Obama has declared a major disaster area in Oklahoma, ordering federal aid to supplement state and local efforts in Moore. Speaking from the White House on Tuesday morning, he said that FEMA staff were on the ground to provide support to residents.