SHAWNEE, OK. (CNN) – At least 17 people — 7 of them children who were trapped in the Plaza Towers Elementary School, KFOR reported — were killed Monday when a powerful tornado blasted an area outside of Oklahoma City, ripping roofs off buildings, leveling homes, and cutting a wide path of destruction the scale of which is just starting to be made clear.
The victims’ bodies were being sent to Oklahoma’s office of the chief medical examiner, the office’s Amy Elliott told CNN, confirming the tornado’s first fatalities. Authorities had no immediate estimate on the number of injured.
After the ear-shattering howl of the killer storm subsided, survivors emerged from shelters to see an apocalyptic vision — the remnants of cars twisted and piled on each other to make what had been a parking lot look like a junk yard. Bright orange flames roaring from a structure that was blazing even as rain continued to fall.
At least one school was in the tornado’s devastation zone in Moore, Oklahoma. Lance West, a reporter for CNN affiliate KFOR, said that rescuers were searching for students trapped in debris at Plaza Towers Elementary School. There were no immediate reports on the condition of the children but rescuers swarmed to the scene to begin a painstaking search.
There were 75 students and staff at the school when the storm hit, KFOR reported
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