But Tuesday morning brought something of a silver lining, when officials announced confusion had led them to report a much higher number of victims than originally suspected.
“We have got good news. The number right now is 24,” Amy Elliott, the chief administrative officer at the Oklahoma City Medical Examiner's Office, said in a televised press conference.
"There was a lot of chaos,” she said.
Elliott explained the "silver lining" came as a result of some "difference in the calls that had been reported to us and the decedents we actually received."
"Fewer losses is better, of course," Elliott told the Los Angeles Times.
"It was a very eventful night," she added, explaining that downed communication lines only exacerbated the chaos.
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The country watched in horror as tornadoes ripped through Moore, Oklahoma, and the reported death toll rapidly rose, from 51 dead to as high as 91 Monday.
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Tornado devastates Moore, Oklahoma
A search and rescue crew looks for survivors in the aftermath of a series of tornadoes, in Moore, Oklahoma, May 21, 2013. On May 20 tornadoes swept through severals towns south of Oklahoma City leaving a path of destruction and killing at least 24 people. UPI/J.P. WilsonA path of destruction is seen in the aftermath of a series of tornadoes in Moore, Oklahoma, May 21, 2013. On May 20 tornadoes swept through severals towns south of Oklahoma City leaving a path of destruction and killing at least 24 people. UPI/J.P. Wilson
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