MOORE, Okla. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The search for survivors and the dead was nearly complete Tuesday in the Oklahoma City suburb that was smashed by a mammoth tornado, the fire chief said.
Gary Bird said he’s “98 percent sure” there are no more survivors or bodies to recover under the rubble in Moore, a community of 56,000 people.
His comments came after emergency crews spent much of the day searching the town’s broken remnants for survivors of Monday’s twister, which flattened homes and demolished an elementary school. The storm killed at least 24 people, including at least nine children.
Every damaged home was searched at least once, Bird said. His goal was to conduct three searches of each location just to be sure. He was hopeful the work could be completed by nightfall, but the efforts were being hampered by heavy rain.
Volunteers and disaster relief workers from around the Tri-State Area headed to Oklahoma to help with the massive recovery effort.
About 60 patients remained hospitalized following Monday’s tornado, though some were expected to be released Tuesday.
Norman Regional Hospital spokeswoman Melissa Herron said 20 of the more than 100 patients her hospital treated remained hospitalized.
Tuesday morning, the state medical examiner’s office cut the estimated death toll by more than half, saying at least 24 people were killed, including at least nine children. Authorities initially said as many as 51 people were dead, including 20 children.