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ME: Oklahoma tornado death toll reduced to 24

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The state's medical examiner's office said Tuesday that 24 people were killed, including seven children, in the devastating tornado that flattened communities near Oklahoma City.

The death toll was cut in half after 51 were reported dead Monday. Spokeswoman Amy Elliot told the Associated Press that she believes some victims were counted twice in the early chaos of the storm.

The number of fatalities is expected to grow as search crews sift through the rubble throughout the day Tuesday.

A tornado reported to be up to two-miles wide ripped through the Oklahoma City area Monday afternoon, leaving a massive path of destruction.

Tuesday morning, rescue workers are still clinging to the hope of finding more survivors and scoured mountains of rubble where houses and schools once stood.

Scores of buildings -- including Plaza Towers Elementary School -- were destroyed in Moore, a suburb south of Oklahoma City.

Another school, Briarwood Elementary School in Oklahoma City, was also flattened.

At one point Monday evening, a majority of the 120 injured people being treated at area hospitals were children, the Associated Press reported.

A National Weather Service spokeswoman told the New York Times the tornado touched down just before 3 p.m. and was on the ground for about 40 minutes. It traveled 20 miles, first striking the town of Newcastle, before reaching Moore.

The twister was two miles wide at its largest point, and homes, businesses, trailer parks and two schools "were gone" in Moore, Okla., KFOR TV News in Oklahoma City said. Emergency responders were having a hard time getting to the area to help.

CNN reports the preliminary rating of the tornado was at least EF4 (166 to 200 mph).

KFOR has striking images of the twister.

CNN video from various affiliates showed some of the damage:

NBC lists some of ways to send help to the area.

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