All In   |  May 20, 2013

Death toll rises after devastating tornadoes in Oklahoma

Chris Hayes reports that the death toll has risen to 37 after tornadoes hit areas outside of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on Monday.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> examiners office tells nbc news that there are 30 fatalities, there's no info tuesday what the breakdown that is, where the victims were recovered from, but 37 confirmed fatalities from the oklahoma medical examiner to nbc news. i want to bring in scott heinze, he's a reporter for k4 tv. coming up on dusk and darkness descending, what are the status of the ongoing rescue efforts at this moment or whether there's a sense that this is now in a recovery mode?

>> it's not good, we're hearing more and more that the search and rescue missions are now shifting to a recovery mow. particularly at this elementary school , there are several elementary schools that took a direct hit. particularly one by the name of plaza towers, that's where 75 students and faculty took shelter from the tornado. and that school, as you can see in the pictures, leveled, wiped to the foundation. cre crews -- there was a hallway and in that hallway, it's obliterated and those children, that third grade class, they seeked refuge there in that hallway and we're told that 24 children may still be in that rubble. it appears that seven children, we're hearing from rescuers that they were found dead, that they had been at the bottom, i guess and submerged in water and that they had likely drowned. so now it's more of a recovery mission and there could be 20 to 30 more little victims there. at least this is probably within the last half an hour, we had 30 confirmed deaths that were being reported by the state medical examiner. four of those, another colleague of mine and she was on the scene within moments of arriving onscene and she witnessed the first responders pulling out a family. there was -- i get a little choked up thinking about it. but there was a 7-month-old baby and that child, that baby's mother and then there were two others, a man and a woman. and they were, i guess, running for their lives and there was a large freezer, they were trying to -- they were trying to seek shelter wherever they could and they just couldn't make it to that freezer in time and they never made it. we're hearing stories of heroism at that school. there are reports that six children or the teachers there were using their bodies as human shields covering the children. six of those children, we're told, in one instance, they survived, but the teacher, that her condition is critical and it's not likely that she's going to make it. so those stories are starting to surface. and i would say that folks are, you know, we see this all the time, we see the tornadoes, the hail, the severe weather , it's nothing new for this region. but this, whatever this is, this is something -- this is a first for us. not even may 3, 1999 . this took a similar track and that happened much later on in the day. this happened much earlier. and so many of these families were separated. the parents weren't with their children, they were at schools. at that one school, i think fourth, fifth and sixth graders were bussed off within minutes of the tornado of hitting the school. but then these other children, they didn't have time to evacuate. and so they hunkered down and this was one of those tornadoes where if you didn't seek shelter below ground or in a tornado shelter, then your chances of surviving slim to none. i mean really bad. i mean cars were thrown like rag dolls, toys, homes are in rubble. i have never seen anything like it.