Two babies and eight other young children were among the 24 people killed by a tornado that tore through the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore.
The babies aged four and seven months old died in Monday’s fierce twister that steamrollered entire neighbourhoods and two schools in the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore.
“Our hearts go out to all the people affected by this tragedy,” Amy Elliott of the state medical examiner’s office said in an email detailing the revised breakdown of the official death toll.
Previously, authorities had put the number of child fatalities at nine.
The preliminary causes of death for the two dozen casualties included blunt force traumas, as well as asphyxiation, according to the Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office. Both babies died of head trauma.
Some 237 people were injured by the hurricane-strength storm, Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management spokesman Andy Oden told AFP.
It was not immediately clear if anyone remains unaccounted for, with Governor Mary Fallin urging everyone affected to come forward.
“We need to know where you’re at. We need to know if you need assistance,” she said.
During a visit to tour the damage, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano pledged government support for those struggling to piece their lives back together.
“At some point the cameras will leave, the national ones will leave first, then the local ones,” she said. “But on behalf of President Obama and on behalf of (the Federal Emergency Management Agency), we will be here to stay until this recovery is complete.”
President Barack Obama will visit the ravaged region on Sunday to meet with victims and get a firsthand look at the widespread damage
Dramatic video footage has emerged of the moment the tornado hit, taken by two young men who took cover in a cellar.
Charles Gafford was at the home of friend Alex Rodriguez as the tornado struck.
Shot through an opening in the overhead door, the video shows debris, including tree limbs and a tire, flying past.
Rodriguez’s mother, Amanda Odom, told The Associated Press that 19-year-olds “do stupid things” and if she had been home, there would be no video.