Oklahoma tornado in pictures: Search for survivors ends as clean up begins (16pics)
Rescue workers neared the end of the search for survivors and the dead as residents returned to their devastated homes in the Oklahoma City suburb where a mammoth tornado destroyed countless homes, cleared lots down to bare red earth and claimed 24 lives, including those of nine children. Scientists concluded the storm was a rare and extraordinarily powerful type of twister known as an EF5, ranking it at the top of the enhanced Fujita scale used to measure tornado strength. Those twisters are capable of lifting reinforced buildings off the ground, hurling cars like missiles and stripping trees completely free of bark.
The death toll was revised downward from 51 after the state medical examiner said some victims may have been counted twice in the confusion. More than 200 people were treated at area hospitals
Moore has been one of the fastest-growing suburbs of Oklahoma City, attracting middle-income families and young couples looking for stable schools and affordable housing. Many residents commute to jobs in Oklahoma City or to nearby Tinker Air Force Base
From the air, large stretches of the town could be seen where every home had been cut to pieces. Some homes were sucked off their concrete slabs. A pond was filled with piles of wood and an overturned trailer. Also visible were large patches of red earth where the tornado scoured the land down to the soil. Some tree trunks were still standing, but the winds ripped away their leaves, limbs and bark.
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin lamented the loss of life, especially of the nine children killed, but she celebrated the town's resilience. We will rebuild, and we will regain our strength, Fallin said.
In revising its estimate of the storm's power, the National Weather Service said the tornado, which was on the ground for 40 minutes, was a top-of-the-scale EF5 twister with winds of at least 200 mph (320 kph).
Amber Johnson (R) a fifth grade teacher at Briarwood Elementary School salvages items from her car which was parked at the school when a powerful tornado ripped through the area in Moore, Oklahoma. Johnson is being helped by her daughters Natalie (L) and Nicole.
Paula McGee reacts as she sees her home on Kings Manor in Moore, Okla. McGee bought the home two weeks ago and it was hit by the tornado that moved through the Moore area.
Curtis Cook recovers his high school football photo from the rubble of his family's house
Volunteers from Mercy Chefs prepare food for tornado victims in Moore, Oklahoma
Police stand beside two men sitting handcuffed on the street who they have detained on suspicion of looting in Moore, Oklahoma
An aerial view of an entire neighborhood destroyed by Monday's tornado in Moore, Okla.
A US flag is placed in the foundations of a flattened home after a tornado devastated the town Moore, Oklahoma
Scott Perdue (left) yells to his parents, Gene and Colleen Perdue (not pictured) that he has located his father's 1957 Chevy in what remains of their barn in Oklahoma City
A man sits in what remains of his tornado devastated home in Moore, Oklahoma
Brian Mullins and his father Terry survey tornado damage to the home of Brian's girlfriend Sara Robinson, right, in Moore, Okla.