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AFP, AP, CNN, NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE, NEWS 9, REUTERS (U.S.)

Worldcrunch

MOORE - The death toll from Monday’s mile-wide tornado in Oklahoma has risen to 91 people and is expected to keep rising. The deadly twister tore across Oklahoma City and its suburbs flattening houses, offices and elementary schools.

According to Reuters, the town of Moore had just 16 minutes of warning before it hit.

Spokeswoman for the Oklahoma City medical examiner Amy Elliott said the death toll includes 20 children, the AFP reports. Hospitals reported at least 145 people injured, 70 of them children. Oklahoma’s News 9 reports that there are still children trapped inside the debris of one of the elementary schools, with rescue crews working through the night to free them.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin deployed 80 National Guard members to assist with rescue operations and activated extra highway patrol officers, according to the AP.

President Barack Obama declared a major disaster area in Oklahoma, ordering federal aid to the area to supplement local efforts.

The National Weather Service initially classified the storm as an EF4, the second-strongest type, with winds of 260-320 kilometers per hour. This tornado appears to be the deadliest since the one that struck Joplin, Missouri, in 2011, killing 158.

A combination of factors -- including strong winds and warm, moist air banging against dry air -- creates the thunderstorms that lead to tornadoes.

"It’s several severe thunderstorms," meteorologist at the University of Newcastle, Martin Babakhan says. "A tornado forms with the rotation of these thunderstorms. The rotations develop a tornado within the strong updraft rising air within the storm. This makes the cloud look even darker when you see it from a distance."

CNN reports that severe weather could continue sweeping across a wide swath of the United States for the coming days.

Stunning photo of the #tornado that hit Moore, OK today. #OKwxtwitter.com/iamsharpe/stat…

— Ben Sharpe (@iamsharpe) May 21, 2013

EVERYTHING HERE IS GONE. #OklahomaCity#tornadotwitter.com/jaygraymatters…

— Jay Gray (@jaygraymatters) May 20, 2013

You can hear and smell fractured gas lines.. #OklahomaCity#tornadotwitter.com/jaygraymatters…

— Jay Gray (@jaygraymatters) May 20, 2013

SUV tangled in a tree at an Oklahoma trailer park hit by tornado Sunday (photo: @jimcantore) instagram.com/p/ZijiJxvPfE/twitter.com/BuzzFeedNews/s…

— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) May 20, 2013

Amazing #tornado picture from Basehunters... maybe the best of today and there have been many! twitter.com/ZoomRadar/stat…

— Jeff Berardelli (@ZoomRadar) May 19, 2013

Shocking before/after picture of Plaza Towers Elementary in Moore, OK after the EF4 tornado. #OKwxtwitter.com/JasonNweather/…

— Jason Nicholas (@JasonNweather) May 21, 2013

A crumpled Sheriff's car in the driveway of a home demolished. There's a glass vase sitting on top. #okwx (12:57am) twitter.com/SchambachJess/…

— Jessica Schambach (@SchambachJess) May 21, 2013

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