The Oklahoma City medical examiner's office says the death toll from a massive tornado that churned through Oklahoma City Monday has been downgraded from 51 to at least 24.
"To date, 24 deceased victims of the tornado have been transported to our Oklahoma City office, and positive identifications have been made in the vast majority of those, and these are ready for return to their loved ones," spokeswoman Amy Elliott told FoxNews.com in an email.
Nine of the bodies are children.
Elliott said during early recovery efforts, 51 deaths were reported to the medical examiner's office, but some of them may have been double-counted.
She cautioned Tuesday, however, that officials could see as many as 40 additional fatalities. Authorities said initially that 20 children were among the dead.
Local news reports, citing officials, said the death toll could top 90. KFOR reports that the current death toll is 91, but that number is not yet confirmed.
The storm decimated scores of buildings in Moore, a community of 41,000 people about 10 miles south of Oklahoma City. Block after block lay in ruins. Homes were crushed into piles of broken wood. Cars and trucks were left crumpled on the roadside.
More than 240 people are being treated at hospitals, including 60 children, Reuters reports.
"Our prayers are with the people of Oklahoma today," President Barack Obama said in a Tuesday news conference, expressing gratitude for the residents and first responders who are assisting with the search and rescue efforts, and teachers who shielded their children as the tornado hit two schools.
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