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Obama offers solace in tornado-ravaged Oklahoma

The tornado injured 377 people, destroyed 1,200 homes and affected an estimated 33,000 people.

President Obama embraces a school official as he views the devastation of the Plaza Towers Elementary School in Oklahoma.
President Obama embraces a school official as he views the devastation of the Plaza Towers Elementary School in Oklahoma.
Image: (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

US PRESIDENT BARACK Obama has offered solace and support to residents of Oklahoma as they rebuild their shattered lives after a monster tornado killed 24 people.

“When we say that we’ve got your back, I promise you that we keep our word,” Obama declared, as he stood in front of the wreckage of Plaza Towers Elementary School.

In the shadow of the now unrecognizable mountain of twisted metal and wood where many of the storm’s 10 child victims lost their lives, he praised all those who went out of their way to save people’s lives.

“From the forecasters who issued the warnings, to the first responders who dug through the rubble, to the teachers who shielded with their own bodies their students, Oklahomans have inspired us with their love and their courage and their fellowship,” Obama said.

Julie Lewis watches with her husband Scott, and their son Zack, as President Barack Obama moves on with his tour of the devastation of Moore. Zack was a third-grader at the Plaza Towers Elementary School, now reduced to rubble in the background after the devastating tornado and severe weather last week. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

He also hailed those who have offered shelter for their neighbors whose homes were destroyed.

Obama was in Oklahoma to view the devastation firsthand and meet with survivors and first responders. He was accompanied through the scene by Governor Mary Fallin, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate and local officials.

The tornado was one of the most powerful in years, injuring 377 people, damaging or destroying 1,200 homes and affecting an estimated 33,000 people, according to a recent update from officials.

Initial damages have been estimated at around $2 billion.

The United States experiences three out of four tornadoes in the world, but the one that hit Monday was an unusually powerful EF-5, the highest possible level, on the Enhanced Fujita scale and touched down with little advance notice.

It followed roughly the same track as the 1999 twister, yet very few homes in Oklahoma – and neither of the stricken schools – had purpose-built storm shelters.

© AFP, 2013

Photos: Oklahoma deals with destruction after worst tornado in decades>

Read: Two babies among the ten children killed in Oklahoma tornado>

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