There's a reason that many eyes were on Plaza Towers Elementary as Moore, Oklahoma began to assess the damage from a deadly, devastating tornado that blasted through the town Monday evening and killed at least 51 people: the school was leveled, with dozens of children still inside. And so far, some of the most emotionally charged news has emerged from the story unfolding there.
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While children from the 4th, 5th, and 6th grades in the school were evacuated before the storm, students in kindergarten through third grade sheltered in place. Seventy five children and staff were reportedly in the school when the tornado hit. To try and make it through the storm, children told KFOR that they held on to the walls of the school's hallways, with teachers trying to shelter as many as they could.
Here's NBC News, describing the scene just after the storm:
"The tornado tore the roof off the school about 3 p.m., and authorities kept hysterical parents back because it was too loud to hear screams for help. A teacher told NBC affiliate KFOR that she draped herself on top of six children in a bathroom to shelter them."
Here's a view of the school just after the storm:
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Some escaped. Some were pulled from the rubble alive:
Child pulled from the rubble of the Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Okla. (AP) twitter.com/passantino/sta…— Jon Passantino (@passantino) May 20, 2013
But as night approached, the news got worse: at least seven bodies, all children, have been pulled from the rubble so far. Officials, according to KFOR, believe that up to 30 additional children may have been trapped inside, but have no hope of finding any additional survivors. Work at Plaza Towers Elementary is now in recovery mode.