UPDATE: At Least 51 People Dead After Monstrous Okla. Tornado, Death Toll Expected to Rise

Watch live updates regarding the situation surrounding the developing storm and the damage left from a massive tornado that went through towns near Oklahoma City Monday afternoon:

KTUL.com – Tulsa, Oklahoma – News, Weather

Update 7:34 p.m. ET: The massive tornado near Oklahoma City has killed six people, Fox News reports.

Update 6:50 p.m. ET: Gov. Mary Fallin called in to KWTV and said “this tornado could be as big as the one that hit Joplin, just looking at what the television is able to show us” in terms of damage.

She continued explaining that the primary effort right now is rescue and then it will be to secure the sites that have been impacted so proper assessments of damage can begin.

Fallin said she has contacted FEMA for emergency relief funds. She also said she has been in contact with President Barack Obama who has offered any support he can provide.

Update: 6:40 p.m. ET: Here’s a look (below) at flattened homes in Moore. Reporters said the tornado was such that it didn’t just take the roof off of homes but completely leveled them.

Massive Tornado Touches Down in Newcastle Oklahoma

This photo provided by KFOR-TV shows homes flattened outside Moore, Okla., Monday, May 20, 2013. A monstrous tornado as much as a mile wide roared through the Oklahoma City suburbs Monday, flattening entire neighborhoods, setting buildings on fire and landing a direct blow on an elementary school. (Photo: AP/KFOR-TV)

Update 6:30 p.m. ET: Local reporters continue to compare the damage from the tornado that went through Moore Monday to an F5 tornado that swept through the same area in May 3, 1999, among others. Some reporters have even said the damage might look worse.

According to NewsOK, May 3, 1999, resulted in dozens of tornadoes in the area, destroying thousands of homes through 19 counties. As a result of that historic storm, there were 44 deaths and hundreds injured.

Update 6:05 p.m. ET: “We were in our tornado meeting place …ready for it to hit,” one of the Briarwood Elementary school teachers told a KWTV reporter, who later noted this meeting place was the hallway. The teacher said there were some head injuries and cuts but for now the injuries overall are minor.

“If that’s as bad as it is there, that is definitely a miracle,” a KWMT anchor said.

Three have been confirmed dead — a man, a woman and a baby — at a local 7/11 store.

Massive Tornado Touches Down in Newcastle Oklahoma

This screenshot is said to show Briarwood Elementary. (Image: KWTV screenshot)

Update 6:00 p.m. ET: The tornado that went through Moore spent 40 minutes on the ground beginning around 2:52 p.m. CDT. According to preliminary reports, it is thought to be an F4, which would be 207 to 318 mile per hour winds.

A local daycare has reported that all children are accounted for and OK.

Update 5:55 p.m. ET: All the children at Briarwood Elementary are reported to be accounted for, but injuries of the children are not known at this time.

A man describing riding out the storm in a closet in his house said it felt like the twister was over his home for 20 seconds. He recalled thinking that if this were the end, he wanted to see the tornado. When he looked out, he said he couldn’t even describe what he saw.

Update 5:51 p.m. ET: A KWTV reporter in Moore said a police officer was seen holding a 3-month-old baby in a blanket and neighbors said the baby did not make it. The reporter also said a 4-year-old has died as well, but there is no official count being reported yet.

KWTV is waiting for an update regarding Briarwood Elementary.

Update: 5:45 p.m. ET: In Moore, rescue teams have requested media helicopters clear out of the area so they can hear cries for help coming from the rubble.

Third grade children are being pulled from Plaza Towers school, according to KWTV.

Update 5:36 p.m. ET: A rotating funnel could was spotted in Pauls Valley, Okla., in Garvin County. It was likely to produce a tornado.

Update 5:31 p.m. ET: A tornado was spotted touching down north of Meeker, Okla., in Lincoln County. It is said to be smaller than what ripped through Moore earlier Monday but still represents a serious situation.

Update 5:25 p.m. ET: Triage units are being set up in Moore. KWTV reported police saying there have been multiple fatalities so far.

Update 5:15 p.m. ET: Rescue teams are still heading into Moore, Okla., trying to dig out those who are trapped and who need medical care. The screenshot below is thought to be Briarwood Elementary.

Massive Tornado Touches Down in Newcastle Oklahoma

(Image: KWTV screenshot)

Update 5:20 p.m. ET: This video shows some of the immediate aftermath and first responders rushing in to help:

Update 5:06 p.m. ET: A mother distraught but appearing safe with her two children spoke to a KWTV reporter saying she held her daughter from being taken up by the tornado by holding her by her hair.

This video shows parents and other adults rushing in the direction of Briarwood Elementary directly after the tornado left the area:


Update 5:02 p.m. ET: There is not currently a tornado on the ground but meteorologists are tracking still strong storms that appear to be intensifying.

Update 5:00 p.m. ET: “I can’t count the number of homes that are absolutely destroyed,” a reporter on the scene said of the damage.

Update 4:54 p.m. ET: KWTV reporting from the Moore, Okla., area said emergency responders expected injuries to number 100 or more.

Update 4:47 p.m. ET: The tornado destroyed a school gymnasium (below) but the building remained intact. This school is speculated by KWTV to be a different school than Briarwood Elementary, which is said to have taken a direct hit.

Massive Tornado Touches Down in Newcastle Oklahoma

You can see the path of the tornado through a school gym in this screenshot. (Image: KWTV screenshot)

Update 4:43 p.m ET: Parents and neighbors are seen with “tears in their eyes” rushing toward Briarwood Elementary (screenshot below). Areas where the tornado has passed through are being described as “obliterated.”

Massive Tornado Touches Down in Newcastle Oklahoma

(Image: KWTV screenshot)

Update 4:40 p.m. ET: Reporters are calling the damage done by the tornado thus far “catastrophic.”

The day after several tornadoes ripped through the midwestern states, a massive tornado was blowing through Oklahoma near Oklahoma City Monday afternoon with intense destruction that went through an elementary school.

Massive Tornado Touches Down in Newcastle Oklahoma

Image: KWTV screenshot)

KWTV called it a “huge tornado” with a “violent rotation.” A storm tracker speculated the twister was either an F4 or F5. A storm tracker also said “there’s houses in the air here” and noted “a ton of debris.” They reporters described houses, trees and more in the tornado as a “debris ball.” An elementary school — thought to be Briarwood Elementary in Moore — is also said to have been hit with some children potentially being trapped.

Massive Tornado Touches Down in Newcastle Oklahoma

(Image: KWTV screenshot)

Take a look at some of the footage of the tornado as it went through near Oklahoma City Monday afternoon:

Here’s more:

The National Weather Service has a tornado warning in effect until 3:15 p.m. CDT for northwestern McClain, south central Oklahoma and northern Cleveland counties. The tornado in Newcastle moving northeast at 20 miles per hour touched down at 2:55 p.m. CDT.

National Weather Service meteorologists and storm spotters reported hail up to the size of tennis balls as well.

The Oklahoma House of Representatives canceled its afternoon sessions so Capitol employees and state lawmakers could take shelter. Sirens blared and workers made their way to the Capitol basement.

Oklahoma City’s southeastern suburbs were hit by a storm Sunday and two people died. Monday’s storm is in an area that is more densely populated.

KWTV’s reporters described it as looking similar to the violent twister hit May 3, 1999.

This is a developing story. The Associated Press contributed to this report.