Oklahoma tornado: Search nears the end for Moore storm survivors as Mayor vows to ensure shelters are built in new houses

At least 24 people, including nine children, killed by massive EF5 tornado

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The Independent US

The search by emergency workers for survivors in the wreckage left by the huge tornado that ripped through an Oklahoma suburb is coming to an end, according to officials.

Moore fire chief Gary Bird said he was almost certain there were no more bodies or survivors left in the rubble.

"I'm 98 per cent sure we're good," he said.

No additional survivors or bodies have been found since Monday night, Bird said.  Officials are increasingly confident that everyone caught in the disaster had been accounted for, despite initial fears that the twister had claimed the lives of more than 90 people.

At least 24 people, including nine children, were killed and 240 injured when the massive tornado struck Moore.

Seven of those children were killed at Plaza Towers Elementary School, police said. They died in a in a classroom not a basement and they did not die from flooding as initial reports indicated.

Jerry Lojka, spokesman for Oklahoma Emergency Management, said search-and-rescue dog teams would search for anybody trapped under the rubble, but that attention would also be focused on a huge clean-up job.

"They will continue the searches of areas to be sure nothing is overlooked," he said. "There's going to be more of a transition to recovery."

More than 1,000 people had already registered for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which sent hundreds of workers to Oklahoma to help with the recovery.

Mayor Glenn Lewis says he will try to pass new laws that will require storm shelters to be installed in new houses. "I have six councilmen and I need four votes to get it passed," he told CNN on Wednesday.

The tornado was 1.3 miles wide as it moved through Moore, in the southern part of the Oklahoma City metropolitan area, the National Weather Service said. The estimated peak wind ranged from 200 to 210 mph, which would make it an EF5, the most powerful category of tornado possible, according to the agency.

Around 2,400 homes were damaged in Moore and Oklahoma City, said Jerry Lojka of the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management. Some 10,000 people were directly impacted by the tornado, he said.

Insurance claims are likely to top $1 billion (£663 million), exceeding the cost of the 1999 tornado which hit the same area, according to Kelly Collins of the Oklahoma Insurance Commission.