US President Barack Obama has declared a major disaster in Oklahoma after a 3km-wide tornado packing winds of up to 320kph tore through the state capital killing at least 51 people, including 20 children, and injuring at least 230.
Moore, which has a population of about 50,000, was strewn with debris, with street signs gone and lights out in the structures left still standing in the most severe of a series of savage storms to hit the state on Sunday and Monday.
Tornados, among the most violent of atmospheric storms, rarely reach the size and brutality of the twister that swept through an Oklahoma City suburb on Monday, experts say.
And seldom do they hit built-up areas.
"Typically, they could be about 100 metres (110 yards) across, and they last maybe five to ten minutes on the ground," according to University of Reading meteorologist Ross Reynolds -- who said the people of Moore were in many ways unlucky.
They were confronted by a two-mile- (three-kilometre) wide storm that lasted about 45 minutes and was of a similar strength to the worst-ever tornado that hit the area 14 years ago but claimed fewer lives.
Revising a previous higher toll, officials said Tuesday that at least 24 people, including nine children, had died in the Oklahoma storm that packed winds of 166 to 200 miles per hour (267-322 kilometres per hour).