Oklahoma tornado was EF-5 level, strongest category


Kasey Clark sorts through the debris of her grandmother-in-law Thelma Cox's mobile home after it was destroyed by a tornado May 20, 2013 near Shawnee, Oklahoma.


Brett Deering

The National Weather Service on Tuesday said the gigantic tornado that struck Oklahoma on Monday and left dozens dead in its wake was at the highest-possible EF-5 level, reported the Associated Press

EF-5 stands for Enhanced Fujita Scale of Tornado Intensity and number 5 is the top intensity level. 

Winds were recorded at 200 miles per hour in Oklahoma as the storm pummeled the state, tracing a path 17 miles long and over one mile wide, reported the AP

The exact number of those killed and injured is not yet clear, but officials said dozens are reported dead, many of them believed to be children, and hundreds hurt amidst untold damage. 

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Oklahoma's Gov. Mary Fallin said rescuers were still working to recover survivors and bodies. She said the estimated number of injured stood at 237 as of Tuesday. 

Fallin instructed those seeking assistance to call 1-800-621-FEMA or visit okstrong.ok.gov.

Also Tuesday, President Barack Obama promised Oklahomans "all the resources they need at their disposal" in the wake of "one of the most destructive" storms in America's history.

Indeed, this is the first EF-5-level storm recorded in America so far this year, according to AP, noting that the National Weather Service described the tornado's strength as "incredible." 

They are relatively rare. Only five EF-5-strength tornados have hit the country since the 1950s, according to USA Today

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Obama declared a major disaster in the state on Monday evening, allowing aid to flow into the state.

"Our prayers are with the people of Oklahoma today and we'll back up those prayers with deeds for as long as it takes," the US leader said on Tuesday.

"The people of Moore should know that their country will remain on the ground, there for them, beside them, as long as it takes," he added. 

Although the president acknowledged that the full extent of damage and lives lost was still unknown, he stressed, "Oklahoma needs to get everything that it needs right away."