Seven children 'drowned' in Oklahoma school hit by twister

Plaza towers school tragedy

Children are thought to have become trapped in school basement they thought would give them shelter

LAST UPDATED AT 12:28 ON Tue 21 May 2013

SEVEN young children are believed to have drowned in the basement of an elementary school struck by the massive tornado that ripped through the suburbs of Oklahoma City yesterday.

It is not known exactly how the children drowned, says Sky News, which reports that the children’s bodies have been recovered from the Plaza Towers elementary school in the suburb of Moore. It is believed the children took shelter in the basement as the tornado approached, but became trapped when the building took “a direct hit” from the twister.

The strength of the tornado – which was rated as EF4, the second strongest rating - tore the roof off Plaza Towers elementary school, knocked down walls and turned the playground into twisted metal. Several students were found alive in the rubble this morning and passed down a human chain of rescue workers to a triage centre in the car park. Some of the rescued students looked “dazed while others appeared terrified,” reports Fox News.

The mayor of Moore City, Glenn Lewis, said: "Unfortunately it is one of the older schools in the city and the structure was just not built as well as it should have been."

Lewis added that a total of five schools “full of kids” were hit because the tornado struck within teaching hours. As a result, there are known to be at least 20 children among those killed by the tornado, most of them under the age of 12, according to the Medical Examiner's Office.

In addition, about 50 of the 120 people being treated for injuries at local hospitals are children. · 

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