Nightly News   |  May 21, 2013

Aerials show tornado’s 17-mile-long path

Thousands have been displaced by the Oklahoma tornado that killed at least 24 people. So far, not everyone has been accounted for and rescuers are still searching.  NBC’s Lester Holt reports.

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

>> and welcome back to those of you following us on our local nbc stations to what is our second half hour, special hour-long coverage tonight from this devastated city of moore, oklahoma, south of oklahoma city where we've had confirmation today these were some of the strongest winds on earth. an ef-5 tornado. that is the strongest possible category. we woke up to some good news. the wildly fluctuating death toll , which stood at 51 when so many americans went to bed last night, rose to 91 overnight in the fog of war that can often follow a disaster like this. we woke up to a lesser number of 24 souls confirmed lost in this with hundreds of injuries. lester holt here again to start off this half hour of our coverage. lester, we have a dandy nbc station in oklahoma city , kfor . they have helicopter coverage. they gave aw ride today to give you perspective on this area.

>> reporter: it is important to get perspective. we've sat and stood in front of wreckage like this before and you can look to the right and left. in this case, you have to go upstairs to do it. went up in the chopper with kfor . and you got a sense of this thing over a mile wide. and to understand the length of this thing. 17 miles it was on the ground. 40 minutes turning up what was green springlike land into this dirty brown that's littered with the pieces and remnants of people's lives and certainly their homes. as far as the death toll , as brian mentioned, the numbers changed dramatically overnight in a positive way. 24 the confirmed number of dead right now. at the same time we're told not everyone has been accounted for. they're still searching . it's meticulous, tedious. not only the wreckage you see around us but also the storm shelters, sometimes they're built under people's carports and that might be under wreckage, they've got to get to that. and dogs have been out doing much of the work today including at that school where so many young children perished. the dogs were working that scene along with cranes there. 20,000 in all may be displaced. they've quickly moved to get utilities on in this area. the traffic lights are working, the water now, except in areas that have been devastated, is back on. they're making those first tentative steps to recovery but still trying to account for who the casualties are and where they might be.

>> lester holt with literally an overview of this storm today. thanks to our friends at kfor television. lester, thanks. all