- Published on Tuesday, 21 May 2013 11:26
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Sky News - A massive tornado has torn through a densely populated suburb of Oklahoma City, utterly destroying everything in its path - including an elementary school where young children survived a "direct hit".
Several children have been pulled alive from the wreckage of Plaza Towers Elementary School in the hours after the devastating, mile-wide tornado reduced the building to heaps of rubble and twisted metal.
Rescuers were passing the rescued children down a "human chain" to get them to medical personnel for treatment.
Roughly 500 students attend that school in the suburban town of Moore. It is unclear whether any had been evacuated before the twister hit, but local media is reporting some children were taken to a nearby church.
Firefighters are at the scene digging through the school's debris to reach any children possibly trapped inside.
KFOR-TV reports that at least four people are dead after the devastating storm struck mid-afternoon. The National Weather Service has given the twister a preliminary EF-4 classification, with winds up to 200mph.
Moore's hospital was badly damaged, and there were also unconfirmed reports that a second school was destroyed.
Several other tornado warnings were also in effect following the devastating twister.
Monday's mid-day twister came just a day after two people were confirmed killed by a tornado nearby.
Residents of Moore had been urged to take shelter as the violent storm moved through the area.
The broad, dark funnel cloud was on the ground for 35 minutes before dissipating.
KFOR-TV's news helicopter showed huge swaths of buildings and homes completely levelled, with nothing but wreckage left. Some homes were taken down to their concrete slabs.
Sky News US Correspondent Dominic Waghorn described the damage, saying "whole neighbourhoods just wiped off the map, homes literally stripped to their foundations".
Aerial footage showed vehicles crumpled and overturned in piles of debris on the motorway, and buildings that were unrecognisable jumbles of rubble.