Updated: Mon, 20 May 2013 23:02:19 GMT | By Tracy Connor, Staff Writer, NBC News

Frantic search for survivors at Oklahoma school flattened by tornado; Children pulled from rubble



Debris where Plaza Towers Elementary School stood before Monday's tornado.

Debris where Plaza Towers Elementary School stood before Monday's tornado.

Hysterical parents converged Monday at an elementary school wrecked by a tornado that tore through Moore, Okla., desperate to learn if their children survived.

Several kids were pulled alive from the rubble of the Plaza Towers Elementary School, the Associated Press reported. But crews were still trying to track down students in kindergarten through third grade, including dozens of children who had been sheltering in a hallway of the building, according to a reporter for NBC station KFOR.

The fourth, fifth and sixth graders had been evacuated to a church about a quarter-mile away from the 440-student school before the tornado touched down.

At about 5:40 p.m., police brought backboards over to a pile of rubble where they thought they had heard a cry for help, the station reported.

The two-mile-wide twister — deemed at least an E4, the second-highest strength, by the National Weather Service — tore the roof off the building and knocked down its cinder-block walls.

A teacher laid on top of several children to protect them from winds that may have topped 200 mph, KFOR reported.

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