A powerful tornado attacked on Monday afternoon the southern suburbs of the Oklahoma City, capital of the U.S. state of Oklahoma, killing at least 51 people and injuring at least 140 others, including about 70 children, according to Xinhua.

According to local media reports, the tornado came with strong winds up to 200 mph (about 320 kmph), leveling the entire neighborhoods and destroying an elementary school. Local rescuers launched a rescue effort at the school, pulling children from heaps of debris and carrying them to a triage center.

Block after block lay in ruins in Moore, a community of 41,000 people south of the city. Homes were crushed into piles of broken wood while cars and trucks were left crumpled on the roadside.

Some 80 National Guard members have been deployed to assist with search-and-rescue operations in the tornado-stricken area.

It will take time to establish communications between rescuers and state officials as the storm was so massive, said Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, who also talked with U.S. President Barack Obama about the support from the federal government.

The tornado followed the path of a killer twister that slammed the region in May 1999. It was the fourth tornado to hit Moore since 1998. A twister also struck in 2003.