Twenty-four confirmed dead after Oklahoma twister, as recovery effort begins



People walk through a damaged area near the Moore Warren Theater after a powerful tornado ripped through the area on May 20, 2013 in Moore, Oklahoma.


Brett Deering

The search for victims of the deadly Oklahoma tornado drew to a close Tuesday evening, as authorities confirmed that at least 24 people had been killed, a figure revised down from initial reports of 51 dead, after it was discovered some victims may have been counted twice. 

"I think that will stand," Mayor Glenn Lewis said of the 24 figure, according to CNN, which encompasses nine children killed in an elementary school. 

“They are typical, very extensive blunt force injuries," Oklahoma Chief Medical Examiner Eric Pfeifer told The Oklahoman of the disaster victims. "These storms just have energy … bigger than a bomb blast and so the injuries are as you would expect from something like that,” he added. 

Read more from GlobalPost: Oklahoma tornado was EF5 level, strongest category

“They took them to the hospital and then came back to pick up some more,” said Emergency Medical Services Authority spokesperson Lara O’Leary to The Oklahoman of the rescue effort. “It took many hours. Some of our paramedics walked to get closer. It was an amazing effort from a lot of people.”

About 2,400 homes have been damaged in the disaster in both Oklahoma City and its suburb of Moore, according to a spokesperson from Oklahoma Emergency Management, wrote CNN, while roughly 10,000 people have been effected. 

It's suspected that the tornado will prove exceptionally costly, and Oklahoma's insurance commissioner said he expects it to cost more than the 2011 Joplin, Missouri tornado, which cost over $3 billion and killed 158, according to the BBC. 

Mayor Lewis told CNN he would propose a law at the Moore city council in the coming days requiring a reinforced shelter or room to be built in every new home in the tornado-prone city.

"We'll try to get it passed as soon as I can," Lewis said of the law that would apply to single and multi-family homes. 

The tornado Monday was the fourth that has hit Moore since 1998, wrote CBS, and the most damaging since a 1999 twister that set a world record for wind speed on land, topping 300 miles per hour. 

US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will be headed to Oklahoma Wednesday to help with both recovery and rescue efforts. 

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